The Composite Scheme

 Army’s Notion for overthrowing Pakistan’s Government

THE ARMY has stated unequivocally that the US was not involved in any plot to overthrow Pakistan’s government. The statement by the Director General of the ISPR, Maj Gen Babar Iftikhar, has shattered the very foundation of the narrative that former Prime Minister Imran Khan has been peddling to explain his ouster from power for the past few weeks.

What is the next step to Take?

The mystery surrounding diplomatic cables has been officially dispelled. It was a routine cable from Asad Majeed, the then-US ambassador, detailing a meeting with an American official. There was nothing extraordinary about it, except perhaps the official’s harsh language. Pakistan’s usual response is to issue a démarche, which it did. Someone persuaded Imran Khan that the cable could be used (and abused) to weave a Bhutto-style nationalist narrative to explain the government’s impending demise. It was the worst piece of advice Khan had ever received. The fact that he accepted it was even worse.

 Suggestion to Khan

Who provided this suggestion to Khan? We don’t know for sure just yet. We do know the following: (a) The foreign minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, was the only PTI cabinet member who had access to the cable. (b) Whoever among Khan’s closest advisers peddled this dangerous and false narrative had to have done so after reading the cable. He or she would not have been able to read the cable — or even have had access to it — unless the foreign minister gave permission. (c) The FM, for his part, would have to be persuaded of the conspiracy in order to agree to the cable being used for a political narrative. But, honestly, could he? Qureshi is far too experienced in these matters to miss the fact that the cable was nothing special. (d) Yet, Qureshi not only went along with this concoction, he promoted it vociferously, all the while knowing (how could he not?) that he was not only fanning a rumour, but that he was doing so at the risk of significant damage to Pakistan’s diplomacy and national interest. (e) Why would he do such a thing? Why didn’t he respond to Khan’s ridiculous advice? Why didn’t he intervene to prevent Khan from spreading lies?

My Saturday column “The conspiracy concoction”
“What do you do with a populist leader who refuses to accept facts as presented by the state itself, and who prefers to build his politics on an illusion that is deeply damaging to the country?”@dawn_com

— Fahd Husain (@Fahdhusain) April 16, 2022

Defeat of Imran Khan

Defeat of Imran Khan’s party has been defeated. The entire conspiracy narrative has been demolished by the military spokesman’s presentation of facts, which led them to commit the grave sin of even violating the Constitution. This has repercussions: (a) The military was forced to come clean because Khan and his party were inflaming the political environment to such a dangerous level with this concoction, encouraging (if not actively promoting) a social media campaign against the military leadership. (b) Khan may have to reconsider his conspiracy theory and go back to the drawing board to come up with something new that does not require him to confront the military. This would require him to swallow his pride. (c) Alternatively, he could continue with the conspiracy theory regardless of the consequences. (d) This would require him to basically say that the military is wrong and he is correct. He doesn’t have any options in the middle. Khan’s gamble would also entail choosing a collision course with the military because he will now have to proclaim that the military is not telling the truth (e) Khan’s gamble would also entail choosing a collision course with the military because the government can very easily prove — through a judicial commission or otherwise — that the cable contains no conspiracy (f) Khan’s gamble would also entail choosing a collision course with the military because he will now have to proclaim that the military is not telling the Khan has backed himself into a corner, hasn’t he? He may not have any other choice but to press on with this dangerous and erroneous narrative, regardless of the facts. 

Concoction of Politics

He’s made this one concoction his entire politics, and he’s left himself little room to pivot to a different strategy. (a) This raises an important question: what do you do with a populist leader who refuses to accept facts as supplied by the state, preferring instead to base his politics on a deception that is harmful to the country and its essential interests? (a) As a result, the state will be forced to confront the PTI conspiracy concoction narrative with all available resources in order to bury the falsehood under the weight of overwhelming evidence. (c) This would be detrimental to the PTI’s political position because, in order to defend itself, the party would be forced to promote the deception even harder, further burying itself. At some point, the strategy’s diminishing rewards will start to demand a cost. You better be prepared to pay the price if you have the entire weight of the government, state, and facts stacked against you and your only weapon is a bogus, contrived, and rejected hypothesis.

Shehbaz Sharif, Prime Minister of Pakistan

The PTI could not have given the new administration a greater present. Shehbaz Sharif, Prime Minister of Pakistan, has a number of options: (a) order an inquiry or form a committee, and take all necessary steps to reveal the truth about the cable and disprove the conspiracy theory. (b) Order that other irregularities in the PTI government be made public (the Toshakhana affair is already public) and that charges be instituted where necessary. The PTI’s ‘honesty and anti-corruption’ narrative would be seriously harmed, putting the party on the defensive. (c) Repair the connection with the establishment as Khan’s ties with them deteriorate.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *