Pakistan — Going once, going twice, sold!
By Ambreen Amber
Regime change occurred in Pakistan during the second week of April. Shortly after this event, Waqas (@worqas) tweeted — or maybe retweeted — “Congratulations on successfully removing Pakistani Mosaddegh [the CIA-ousted nationalist Iranian prime minister]. We saw what it took. Great job. This will end well.”
Imran Khan, who heads the Pakistan Tehrike Insaf (PTI) and was elected prime minister in August 2018, has been officially voted out of office. Opposition leader Shahbaz Sharif, president of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and out on bail for money laundering, is now prime minister.
Former six-term Rep. Cynthia Ann McKinney (D-Ga.) stated that Washington was hardly an innocent bystander, as it claims. The reasons: Khan refused to condemn Russia, join the sanctions war, let the CIA use Pakistan and was ardently pro-Palestinian.
Lo and behold! The country is ruled by a 16-party coalition Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) government, effectively a PML-N (Sharif family) and Pakistan Peoples Party (Zardari family) joint venture.
Moeed Pirzada (CEO & editor, Global Village Space; TV Anchor at 92 News) remarked that Washington must be surprised how easy it was — “just hire a few greedy, ambitious characters and you can do a regime change.”
The U.S., of course, denies its role.
The Supreme Court refused to admit PTI’s review petition against its April 7 decision – saying that it was submitted after office hours. However, it did so to institute a suo moto action to negate the National Assembly’s deputy speaker’s order that the vote of no-confidence (VNC) was inadmissible and ordered that it could not be held. The Supreme Court opened at midnight, and the Islamabad High Court sat at midnight. Why? To block Khan’s rumored actions.
On March 7, Khan’s government argued that Asad Majeed Khan, the then-Pakistani ambassador to the U.S., was told a day before the opposition formally filed the VNC, that relations with Pakistan depended on the vote’s success and that Pakistan’s path would be very difficult if it failed. Apparently, the State Department wanted the message conveyed because an embassy note-taker sat in plain sight.
Asad Khan presented the issue before the country’s National Security Council. After the judicial coup, the military declared that the U.S. had merely intervened. Installed- Prime Minister Sharif quickly reconvened the council. Asad Khan restated his view, and the regime’s propagandists repeated that it was intervention but not a conspiracy.
Meanwhile, Supreme Court chief justice Bandial invited Shehbaz Sharif (PML-N) and Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari (PPP) to address the court; Imran Khan was not. Instead, the judge chided Khan after his colossal Peshawar rally and unashamedly cited the incorrect figure of “10-15,000” given by a hardline anti-Khan TV presenter.
On March 21, Khan’s government sought the court’s interpretation of a law that bars lawmakers from switching sides. The judgment – however favorable — that could have helped Khan oust those who had betrayed his party, was announced May 17 after the deed was done.
The court’s bias favors Khan’s opponents. For instance, then Supreme Court chief justice Saqib Nisar dismissed the Rs 8.3 billion fake bank account charges against Bilawal on Jan. 7, 2019, referring to “innocent Bilawal” who had come to Pakistan to continue his mother’s [Benazir] legacy. He also asked, “Was Bilawal’s name added to the list to defame him?”
On Dec. 15, 2021, Minallah absolved Zardari in the reference against his Manhattan 524 East 72 Street property purchased through fake bank accounts transactions.
“Buy me, sir. I’m very Cheap”
In short, the first quarter of 2022 saw a handful of Pakistanis sell their motherland for a pittance.
The New York Times’ Elisabeth Bumiller (“How Bhutto Won Washington,” Dec. 30, 2007) wrote that former U.S. ambassador Peter W. Galbraith, Benazir’s longtime friend from her Harvard days, “spen[t] a lot of time talking about what messages she needed to convey.” He added, “She was this completely charming, beautiful woman who could flatter the senators, and who could read their political concerns, who could persuade them that she would much better serve American interests in Afghanistan than [Gen.] Zia.”
Husain Haqqani, a former Pakistan ambassador, Benazir adviser, and professor (international relations, Boston University), told Bumiller that Benazir’s Washington network helped her overcome Pakistan’s powerful army and intelligence service’s opposition to her becoming prime minister.
Bumiller reported, “For the first six months of 2007, the firm Burson-Marsteller took in fees of close to $250,000 for work on behalf of Ms. Bhutto.” One wonders where this money came from, for Zardari is not known for parting with money.
David Morrison, who has published a great deal on Western interference in the Muslim world, wrote, “[Bhutto] succeeded in convincing Washington that she would serve U.S. interests just as well as Zia ul-Haq, in particular, that she would do nothing to disturb the existing arrangements for assisting the mujahedeen against the Soviet rule in Afghanistan.” Anyone remember that Zia, nearly 40 military officers, the U.S. ambassador and a general all died in a never-investigated air plane crash?
Morrison concluded, “The history of Benazir Bhutto’s tenure of office is that she never went against the U.S. interest — which is presumably why Washington felt able to support her return to office for a third time” (“Benazir Bhutto: A friend of Washington,” Labour & Trade Union Review, Jan. 5, 2008).
PPP fulfills Washington’s wishes. Diplomatic cables obtained by WikiLeaks reveal the following in a cable sent during August 2008: Anne Patterson, the then-U.S. ambassador to Pakistan, wrote that Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani brushed aside [then Interior Minister] Rehman Malik’s suggestion of slightly delaying the drone attacks, saying, “I don’t care if they do it, as long as they get the right people. We’ll protest in the National Assembly and then ignore it.”
At a June 2009 meeting in Islamabad, attended by then-U.S. National Security Adviser Gen. James Jones, President Asif Ali Zardari “made repeated pleas for drones to be ‘put in Pakistan’s hands’ so that Pakistan would own the issue and drone attacks (including collateral damage) would not provoke anti-Americanism,” one cable says.
According to Bob Woodward (“Obama’s Wars,” 2010), when notified that the CIA would be launching missile strikes from drones over his country’s sovereign territory, Zardari replied, “Kill the seniors. Collateral damage worries you Americans. It doesn’t worry me.”
Another Patterson cable quoted that Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman (chairman, Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazal), a professed admirer of the Afghan Taliban, while lobbying for himself in November 2007, pleaded “that Washington not crown Pakistan People’s Party leader Benazir Bhutto prematurely.”
In October 2015, Michelle Obama signed a $70 million “Let Girls Learn” pledge with Maryam Nawaz, who had accompanied her parents to the White House, to help educate 200,000 adolescent girls in Pakistan. In September 2017, Sindh High Court Justice Munib Akhtar heard civil rights campaigner Bisma Naureen’s petition against alleged misappropriation of this U.S. aid. She questioned [now convicted but bailed to care for her absconding father] Maryam’s authority to sign the pledge and run government affairs; she had never held any public office. Until today, no one knows where the money was used.
On record, the Sharifs own no American real estate; however, their British interests are there. U.S. and British shared interests are no secret.
The U.S. categorically denies the allegation; and the U.K. seconds the denial.
In practice, no governments run charities. They exist to subtly serve national interests — after all, taxpayers fund them to serve them.
The U.S. National Endowment for Democracy (NED), known in Latin America as the “National Endowment for Destabilization” — a CIA front for regime change — continues to grant fellowships to Pakistani journalists. The few that instantly come to mind are diehard critics of Imran Khan, such Nadeem F. Paracha (Dawn), Raza Rumi (Ithaca College, New York; Naya Daur TV), Marvi Sirmed (professor of human rights journalism in Connecticut) and Murtaza Solangi (formerly Voice of America Radio TV online). Prime Minister Y.R. Gilani and Information Minister Sherry Rehman appointed him director general of Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation.
The 2014-15 cohort was introduced to the NED family of institutes, counterpart organizations and the ideas of leading scholars: CIPE, IRI, NDI and the Solidarity Center. They were taken to places such as Freedom House and the government-run Holocaust Museum. The cohort included Farahnaz Ispahani (Mrs. Hussain Haqqani, who now sits on Zionist Anti-Defamation League board).
The State Department also runs the Pakistan Professional Partnership Program in Journalism, which brought 230 Pakistani media professionals to the U.S. ostensibly to help educate their audiences and dispel myths and misperceptions about people living in other countries.
The British Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office operates the Chevening scholarships, which let aspiring and professional journalists and opinionmakers enjoy a year of hospitality.
With the U.S. dollar pegged at over Rs 200 and the British pound at Rs 244, private and official media like the Washington Post and the BBC can easily afford to station their correspondents in Pakistan. However, contracting the work locally is a better buy. For instance, Khan antagonist Asma Shirazi (Aaj News) is a BBC columnist, and her fellow Khan-antagonist Hamid Mir (Geo TV) writes for the Washington Post.
Ambreen Amber is a freelance writer.
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