IG Sindh’s Abduction And Its Aftermath Indicates The Sorry State Of The Republic
In what transpired as a classic example of ‘there is never a dull day in Pakistan’, the Director General ISPR’s Press release on the abduction of Sindh’s highest ranking police officer laid bare the disturbing status of Pakistan’s institutions.
The Press release claimed that Rangers and ISI officers acted over zealously in the night between 18/19 Oct in Karachi, a situation which could have been avoided but led to misunderstanding between two institutions. The desecration of Quaid Tomb did offend the public. The statement thus went on to say that concerned officers were under ‘increasing public pressure to ensure prompt action per the law’.
But the kidnapping of the IG Sindh is a damning indictment for rule of law. It is worrying while the motivating factors described in the Press release appear worse. As members of the armed forces, the duty of these individuals who seized the Police chief was simple: act per orders, and not bow down to public pressure. The ethos for any government servant including those of the armed forces is to never react to public desires or take actions in their own capacity. If the Press release is to be believed, then the exact opposite has happened here which spells two problems:
First, for an institution that thrives on orders, discipline & strict chain of command, it is unfathomable to believe that junior officers, without involvement from top, could’ve proceeded to kidnap the highest ranking police officer in Sindh and force him to act on a dubious FIR. Second, if there was zero involvement from the top, then the implication is that the house is not in order. For junior level officials to commit a crime in the garb of ‘overzealousness’ is nothing less than a violation of their oath and law. On balance, there appears to be something amiss in this latest round of accountability which is characteristic of closed institutions.
Was the PM left in the dark?
While there appears to be significant doubt over enquiry results, there is no doubt that this has left Prime Minister Imran Khan dumbfounded. In a recent TV interview, the PM laughed off the kidnapping incident as a joke. His stance has been belittled by the armed forces who have admitted to this abduction and suspended their officers. By extension, it seems plausible that the PM either wasn’t informed that this incident had actually occurred or seemed aloof regarding the seriousness of the army officers’ actions. Both possibilities indicate that the PM is living in La La Land, detached from the sensitive realities on ground which have brought rule of law, institutional discipline and a mellow accountability into question.
Does PDM stand divided?
Pakistan Peoples Party’s public acceptance of the ISPR report stood in stark contrast to Nawaz Sharif’s bombshell statement which ‘rejected’ the report. This divided stance must have come as a momentary sigh of relief for the architects of the hybrid system. The backdrop of PPP’s acceptance is dominated by Bilawal’s public disagreement with Nawaz Sharif’s strategy to name and shame military leadership. The question of whether PPP has taken this route to sustain their Sindh government and a possible win in Gilgit Baltistan remains open. It appears that the establishment and PPP will be enough to make Pakistan Democratic Movement futile. This division can drastically improve chances for an establishment controlled political life underpinned by a divide and rule strategy.
While the political landscape continues to send everybody in shock and awe, the circus in La La land continues.
The writer is co-founder Future of Pakistan Conference and a graduate of the London School of Economics and Political Science.