Strong words these. Treachery and Betrayal. Very strong words.
The word Treachery originates from the word “trechcaire” in Old French meaning “to cheat” and today means “betrayal of trust; deceptive action or nature” and “violation of allegiance or of faith and confidence”.
Betrayal means “to deliver to an enemy by treachery; to fail or desert, especially in time of need.
It is under these definitions that we must evaluate the actions of Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa to see whether he is guilty of treachery and betrayal to his former boss, now ex-PM Imran Khan, to the office Gen. Bajwa occupies and to Pakistan.
If Gen. Bajwa’s overt and covert decisions and actions fail the test of these definitions then we have to look elsewhere for answers to what transpired in Pakistan, starting from late last year culminating in the horror of 11th April 2022, seeing a money-laundering criminal belonging to a mafia-like cabal of looters, plunderers, and criminals taking oath as the Prime Minister of Pakistan!
However, if all the evidence direct or circumstantial points to Gen. Bajwa as the mastermind who orchestrated, planned, and executed this act to success, then I’m afraid to even these words do not do justice to what havoc his decisions and actions have wreaked upon Pakistan.
History has yet to be written.
But, for now, it seems it will not be very charitable to the General who, I’m afraid, will forever be remembered as someone who treacherously stabbed his boss and Pakistan by leaving the country, once again, as have his several predecessors in the past, in the hands of a corrupt plutocratic, kleptocratic mafia.
As the dust settles and clears and emotions calm, the picture is no longer hazy.
One can attempt a detailed dissection and post mortem starting from before the 2018 elections, evaluating the role of Generals Pasha and Zaheer in supporting PTI, in Gen. Bajwa’s support in herding electables into PTI, in the Senate elections, in allowing Nawaz Sharif to leave Pakistan, in appointing Faiz Hameed as DG ISI etc. But that may take a book.
For now a briefer version of present events.
PM IK and Gen. Bajwa had a decent relationship, some may even say quite close in the early days but started going downhill when PM IK started relying more and more on DG ISI Gen. Faiz Hamid and less and less on Gen. Bajwa, to the extent that orders were issued to ISPR that no pictures of the PM and Faiz’s meetings should be made public. I know that at one stage Gen. Bajwa and Gen. Faiz were barely on talking terms.
Then began the litany of complaints against the PM voiced in private and not so private conversations about not changing Buzdar and Azam Khan, about the Army being criticized for Imran’s poor governance, and about corruption by Buzdar and people close to the PM.
These disagreements came to a head when PM IK discovered covert meetings and messaging between Gen. Bajwa and the then opposition. The PM confronted the General with these supported by incontrovertible evidence and the glass cracked further.
Then came the DG ISI change in command. PM IK resisted Faiz’s change but was outmaneuvered and gave in. The episode left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth including the new DG ISI who, I was informed, felt personally humiliated in the manner PM IK had delayed his appointment and nursed this wound!
From then it was all downhill. The stage had been set and the PM defanged.
Meanwhile, the United States had been smarting after their humiliation in Afghanistan and the famous June 2021 “Absolutely Not” PM IK interview.
It was now abundantly clear to them that under PM Imran there would be no permission given for US overflights or physical jumping-off points to the CIA to conduct what they termed as “cross border actions against terrorists in Afghanistan”. The PM’s rising international stature was also beginning to sound alarms.
Unofficial messages started coming in about the possible consequences of such a position. FATF Black list, IMF problems, perhaps, even more, stronger US economic punitive actions would further aggravate the already unbearable inflation in Pakistan.
One retired General told me “Mehdi, fauj ki thankha kay leeyay paisa bhi nahi hongay“. We won’t have money to pay our troops!
So, readers, here is what the landscape looks like around the end of 2021.
PM IK ratings are really really bad, partly because of his own faults, inexperience, some really poor decisions.
Partly because of massive global economic turmoil contributing to inflation.
Partly because of a weak mandate and a blackmailing coalition.
And partly because he had no support from the judiciary to bring the corrupt to justice.
Gen. Bajwa by now was very unhappy with him because in his mind, Imran was not delivering as per expectations and bringing a bad name to the Army.
The US as stated earlier was reportedly very unhappy with him threatening an armageddon-like future if Pakistan didn’t toe their line. They then went into full gear, meeting opposition and disgruntled PTI members to assess the public mood and the possibility of removing him from office through a vote of no confidence.
A weak and desperate opposition trying every way possible to get rid of Imran and thus began the numbers game.
Then in late December and early January, two highly dubious former PTI members, with known ties to the ISI, came out blasting PM IK in a series of TV interviews, targetting the one unassailable attribute about the PM, his personal honesty and incorruptibility.
It was a very deliberate attack. If that last bastion of Imran’s personal honesty and incorruptibility was destroyed then it would be much easier to bring down his government without public outcry.
Then followed that fateful visit to Russia in February, the subsequent EU Ambassadors letter and the “we are not your slaves” comment!
Contrary to everyone’s expectations and the public mood against him, PM IK had miraculously touched a chord in the hearts and minds of the country.
Sensing this and the conspiracy brewing against him he decided to take his case to the people, to forestal, from hindsight, what we now know, was inevitable.
The response was overwhelming.
Imran’s popularity soared. In little-known towns young and old gathered in the tens of thousands to listen to him, rapturously. Inflation was forgotten.
Anger against him dissipated, replaced by a newfound sense of immense National pride, patriotism, and self-respect, never seen before!
For the planner, this was a disastrous turn of events and the need to take him down became more urgent.
What followed was inevitable.
The Vote of No Confidence was ready and tabled!
And in the same manner that electables had been herded to PTI, the old playbook was opened and over two score PTI legislators were herded to the opposition.
Shahzain Bugti, the Balochistan Awami Party (BAP), and MQM “ordered” to change sides as were the Chaudhries who somehow stood their ground but not without dissent within.
And all the time the refrain from Gen. Bajwa, even communicated to me was “we are neutral and do not want to involve ourselves in politics as we, the Army, are always blamed for interfering. Let the politicians sort their own mess out….
A classic smokescreen!
If ever an Army Chief has been so roundly and publicly abused and held responsible for the removal of the PTI government, its Gen. Bajwa.
And tragically and very sadly the manner in which the Army as an institution has been abused is unprecedented!
And, in my humble opinion, the havoc his actions have wreaked on the Army are very serious, putting very serious strains on its unity of command and discipline, something I’d also written earlier.
From this stated attempt to save the Army’s reputation to the low depths that he has taken it to, could not be a more damning indictment of this incredible folly.
The subsequent situation arising out of “Lettergate” is known to everyone so I’ll not dwell on it. Sufficeth that the manner in which every state institution turned their backs to investigate it, and the efforts to play it down will also go down in history as major acts of betrayal by these institutions, especially our Supreme Court!
But I do want to dwell on one particular incident which showed Gen. Bajwa’s cards. His speech at the Islamabad Security Dialogue which I have written in greater detail earlier.
The manner in which he publicly went against the stated policy of his boss, the then PM and the Government of Pakistan, made it clear where he stood.
Certainly not with the PM or the Government of Pakistan but with the USA, saying all the right words and phrases in his attempt to woo them!
And for what?
Because in his judgment and assessment, if PM Imran continued with his independent, nationalistic, self-respecting policy of not toeing the US line, the US would impose harsh direct and indirect economic punitive actions on Pakistan, which would hurt Pakistan tremendously!
Well in fairness to him, in his personal and professional capacities he had every right to hold this opinion including others such as PM IK’s poor governance, his insistence on keeping on Buzdar and Azam Khan, the charges of corruption related to the PM’s spouse’s former husband’s family and friends, etc and the effect all these had on the Army’s reputation!
He had every right to offer to discuss and debate these opinions and issues with the PM.
But he had no right to go against the PM in public.
He had no right to leak sensitive information directly and indirectly to members of the media who were known PM IK critics and undermine the PM.
And if he found that the PM did not accept his opinions, the same PM who had given him an extension and entrusted him as his lieutenant to help navigate Pakistan out of stormy waters, then he should have either accepted the PM’s decision and supported it, or if he still disagreed then he should have honorably resigned!
But as an officer of the State, he certainly had ABSOLUTELY NO RIGHT to mastermind, orchestrate, plan and execute this plan to oust PM Imran and hand it back to the same looters, plunderers, and criminals who have devastated this country.
In this plan, he was able to co-opt the Superior Judiciary whose actions and decisions will forever damn the legacy of the 5 Judges who rushed to their courts at midnight.
It will forever damn the legacy of the CJ of the Islamabad High Court who also rushed to the court at midnight, allegedly to hear a laughable undated petition with ‘to be filled in the blanks information, appealing to overturn the removal of Gen. Bajwa as Army Chief. An act that had not yet even taken place.’
Here’s how I started this commentary.
*Treachery is a betrayal of trust; deceptive action or nature, violation of allegiance or of faith and confidence”*
Betrayal means *”to deliver to an enemy by treachery; to fail or desert, especially in time of need*
I leave it to the reader to form their own opinion on whether Gen. Bajwa’s actions should be deemed treacherous against PM IK and against the State of Pakistan.
And whether he betrayed the trust of his office!
It is also now time to really think and address how Pakistan can shield itself from the massive abuse and misuse of the tremendous unbridled, unaccountable power vested in one individual, the Chief of the Army Staff!
I have also had the great honor of wearing this uniform with pride for nearly 7 years and know a little bit about the tremendous sacrifices of the rank and file and the ultimate sacrifice of their lives in defending the motherland so we can sleep better
But their sacrifices must not go in vain by the actions of one man!
Their reputations are not destroyed by the actions of one man!
The Institutions honor and dignity are not sullied by the actions of one man!
I end with something I shared earlier.
Criticizing a dictator’s takeover doesn’t mean that I hate the Army.
Criticizing the treachery of an Army Chief doesn’t mean I’m against the Army.
I can call out the Chief for his betrayal & treachery, yet love & defend the Pak Army with the same breath.
Treachery is Treachery doesn’t matter who does it!
I honestly don’t know.
With every state institution arrayed against IK, with his opponents now in government, and given the massive upsurge in IK’s tremendous popularity, I do not see anyone allowing early elections or allowing him to contest.
God Forbid, I also see a great danger to his life and safety.
But there is Our Creator and then there is His Creation. And He Is The Best of Planners!
Only the people can make a difference if they have the stamina, the will, and the ability to sacrifice and take back Pakistan!
Sura Ra’d. Aya 11.
Verily never will Allah change the condition of a people until they change it themselves.
Otherwise dear Pakistanis, thanks to Gen. Bajwa, we are now back to the stench, stink, and vomit of the Sharifs, Zardaris, Bhuttos, and Fazlus, as I had been saying ad nauseum!
Haider Mehdi is a Geopolitical commentator/blogger on national and international affairs. Formerly a media anchor, corporate leader, management consultant, start-up entrepreneur, and military officer, he tweets @SHaiderRMehdi and blogs on shrmehdi.com
The views expressed in this blog do not necessarily represent those of PakistanWeek.org