Uneasy Unload

During the run-up to Election 2013, the phrase ‘baba ta easy load ka’ (send baba some easy load) had become the bane of the ANP’s existence. Talk about the 800 martyrs of ANP and the response would be: “yes, but baba ta easy load ka”. Mention the party’s defiance against the TTP and the response would be: “true, but baba ta easy load ka”.
The ANP’s fact-finding mission, which was tasked with investigating the reason for the party’s electoral defeat, declared ‘baba’ – Azam Khan Hoti – as one of the main culprits.
In response Hoti came out lashing at the ANP’s top leadership, as he alleged that Asfandyar Khan received a whooping $350 million bribe from the US.
It would have been better for Hoti Sahib had he stopped there and spoken of some secret Swiss accounts. But instead he used a very morbid yet poetic analogy to suggest that the blood of the ANP’s 800 martyrs is being used as oil in the lamps of Asfandyar’s hotels in Malaysia and palaces in Dubai.
While the analogy was good enough to be played repeatedly on all news channels, it also increased the burden of proof for Hoti. He is absolutely right in saying that such transfers of money don’t come with receipts. But then he must also know that property ownership does not come without title deeds. If there are hotels and palaces, then they must have names and addresses.
These allegations have been around for a while now, and Hoti could have finally substantiated these with evidence. But instead, he simply repeated what has already been said. The credibility of these allegations then can be judged from the fact that even a former close confidant of Asfandyar Khan does not have any evidence to prove them.
Given this fact, it is surprising to see the level of acceptance these allegations are finding among workers of the ANP’s opposition parties. It is very likely that if ‘Easy Load’ baba decided to join any of their parties he would face stiff opposition from these same workers – because of his lack of credibility.
An amount of $350 million is not given for nothing. The ANP would have been worth such a price tag had its stance on the war on terror been contrary to that of the United States. It would have made sense to buy the ANP had it been screaming about blocking Nato supply routes, or calling the war on terror to be ‘someone else’s war’ or referring to the Taliban as ‘our people’.
But it did none of that, and that is because the ANP’s war against this madness started way before 9/11. At a time when the Haqqani network was gracing the lawns of the White House, and John Rambo was shooting down Russian helicopters with arrows. For the ANP this is an existential war, and not an adventure in a far-off land that comes with a cut-and-run option. It is the US that woke up to this threat in 2001. Bacha Khan and Wali Khan had forewarned about these dangers two decades before that, when the US was nurturing these very monsters.
If the ANP was opposing these extremists when the US was supporting them, then why would the ANP change its stance just because the US had a change of heart? It was the ANP’s war way before it became the United States’ war.
However, if one has to look for some incumbency induced pro-US mood swings then one shouldn’t look beyond the PML-N, the PTI and the Jamaat-e-Islami.
The ‘pro-negotiations’ Nawaz Sharif is now tilting heavily towards ‘other options’, given the 779 deaths since he took office. Amazingly, it is an epiphany that did not dawn upon him while Pakistan was raking up 40,000 deaths during the last ten years.
The principled PTI, the one that was convinced about foreign aid being a curse for Pakistan, is now building a Naya Pakhtunkhwa with funds from donors belonging to the Nato alliance.
The feisty Jamaat-e-Islami, the one that used to dharna-block Nato supply routes, had until recently switched to blocking any resolution that asked for banning Nato supplies from passing through Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
All one has to do is to wear a conspiracy-laden fez and ask why these hawks of five months ago are now suddenly cooing like pigeons? For starters one could consider the proximity of US embassy to both the PM House as well as Bani Gala.
The plot would thicken by also pondering upon those post-victory trips to the west; Nawaz Sharif meeting Obama, Imran Khan hobnobbing with British royalty and Sirajul Haq roaming around Europe. And with this overwhelming evidence about contacts with the CIA and the MI5, all one has to do is to throw in a neat little figure of $350 million per party and it should all start making ‘sense’.
If this sounds preposterous then Azam Khan’s claims should sound twice as crazy. The U-turns of the PML-N, PTI and JI can be explained in the context of their empty election promises; peace in 90 days, breaking the IMF kashkol, saying no to foreign aid, negotiations the ‘only’ solution etc. With the votes securely bagged these parties are now gradually switching to the policies of the last five years, especially on the war on terror.
It is yet to be seen whether the chest thumping over Hakeemullah’s death is just playing to the galleries or something more. But one thing is for sure: by considering options other than negotiations these parties have vindicated the stance of the ANP and the PPP, a stance that included the Swat agreement as well as a block on Nato supplies. It is time to accept that maybe, just maybe, negotiations never were an option – a lesson we should have learnt from the failure of the Swat agreement and many others – and that this has always been our own war and not someone else’s.
And once that realisation sinks in, then it is easy to see that foreign money is not needed as an incentive to fight one’s own war. Because when the threat is to one’s existence and there is no option of flight, then the only option left is to fight.