September 1, 2014 Special Dispatch No. 5831

Pakistani Army Accused Of Plotting Protests In Islamabad To Oust Elected Government; UAE's Regional Spy Chief Reportedly Involved In Engineering Pakistani Protests

September 1, 2014
Pakistan, United Arab Emirates, The Gulf | Special Dispatch No. 5831

PTI leader Imran Khan seeking to oust the elected government (image:

Coordinated anti-government protests in Islamabad since August 14 by cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan of the Pakistan Tahreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party and Islamic cleric Maulana Tahirul Qadri of Pakistan Awami Tahreek (PAT) are being controlled by the Pakistani military and its intelligence agencies, according to reports appearing in the Pakistani media. On September 1, PTI President Javed Hashmi, who is seen as a democrat and a voice of conscience in Pakistani politics, lashed out at his party leader Imran Khan for working with the Pakistani army to overthrow the elected government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Hashmi, who was fired by Khan, reminded that he remains party president since Khan did not follow procedures to sack him.

Immediately after Hashmi's statement, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) department of the Pakistani military denied any role in engineering the protests. In a statement, it said: "ISPR has categorically rejected the assertions that Army and ISI were backing PTI/PAT in any way in the current political standoff. Army is an apolitical institution and has expressed its unequivocal support for democracy at numerous occasions. It is unfortunate that Army is dragged into such controversies. Integrity and unity of the Army is its strength, which it upholds with pride."[1] Independent analysts are skeptical of the statement, since the military's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) has been known for ousting and installing governments in the past. Pakistan's ISI, which is by any account the most powerful institution in Pakistan, is known for dictating the country's foreign policies with regard to the US, Afghanistan and India. It is also known for using former ISI chiefs such as Lt.-Gen. Hamid Gul and Lt.-Gen. Shuja Pasha (who now works for the UAE government but has been deeply involved in plotting the current protests).

Over the past few days, editorials in liberal Pakistani newspapers have accused the Pakistani military and the powerful ISI of engineering a soft coup in Pakistan through the use of protests by PTI and PAT, the latter of which is more like a religious organization with no track record of winning elections and is led by Tahirul Qadri, a Barelvi cleric who recently returned from Canada with the sole purpose of overthrowing the elected government through a Tahrir Square-like mass uprising in Islamabad. The protesters have increased pressure on the government of Nawaz Sharif, who - much to the displeasure of the Pakistani military - has sought to build friendly relations with India and has pursued a hands-off approach on Afghanistan.

In January 2013, the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) released a detailed report on the ideology and politics of Maulana Tahirul Qadri, the Canada-returned Islamic cleric who is seeking to capture power in Islamabad through unconstitutional means by mobilizing his devout supporters from the Barelvi school of Islam.[2] MEMRI also released a detailed report on the ideology and politics of Imran Khan, the PTI leader who unlike Tahirul Qadri has some stake in Pakistani politics and can chart a political career in years ahead. As detailed in the MEMRI report, Imran Khan has justified the Taliban's "jihad in Afghanistan" against U.S. forces and has accused the so-called Jewish/Israeli lobby of attacking Pakistan's nuclear program.[3]

Pakistan's best-known human rights campaigner Asma Jahangir also accused the Pakistani military of seeking to thwart the established democratic process in the country, warning: "If the army took over this time, the stint of its rule would be a minimum of 10 years."[4] The Sharif government's efforts for a negotiated exit from the crisis have so far failed, as the protest leaders have stuck to the demand that the prime minister step down to facilitate new elections.

Javed Hashmi On Coup Plot: "Imran Had Told The [PTI] Core Committee That The New Set-Up Would Not Be Called A Martial Law; We Will File A Petition In The Supreme Court And Get A Judge Of Our Choice … [To] Endorse [A Caretaker Government]"

The following are excerpts from a report on Hashmi's statement:[5]

"In a media talk outside the Parliament House, Hashmi said that Imran came to Islamabad with a scripted plan. 'Imran told us, they [the Pakistani military and ISI] asked him to move forward [in tandem with] with Tahirul Qadri,' charged Hashmi. He hastened to add that Imran said, 'We could not move forward without the army.' 'Imran had claimed that all matters had been settled [as part of a conspiracy to overthrow the elected government] and the general election would be held either in late August or in early September as per the plan. Imran is here with a plan; who is the planner? I do not know,' remarked Hashmi…

"'When Imran Khan shared his plan with us, he said that a judge of our choice was coming as the chief justice of the Supreme Court,' Hashmi went on to reveal. He said that Imran Khan had maligned the Supreme Court by saying that the Supreme Court would de-seat Nawaz Sharif and [his brother and chief minister of Punjab province] Shahbaz Sharif. Hashmi implicated the current Chief Justice of Pakistan Nasirul Mulk, by claiming that Imran told us, 'We have a friendly chief justice now [who would approve a replacement government as it had happened in the past military coups].' While he did not name Nasirul Mulk, he confirmed that he was referring to the 'current' chief justice."

"Hashmi contended that the PTI chief [Imran Khan] wanted to move forward along with Dr. Qadri. 'I told him that we were being hijacked by someone else,' said Hashmi, and claimed Imran had come to Islamabad with an agenda." "'Imran had told the [PTI] core committee that the new set-up would not be called a martial law. We will file a petition in the Supreme Court and get a judge of our choice in September and he will endorse it. That chief justice will validate the actions that will be taken eventually…' he said, quoting Imran. 'Today, I have heard that the chief justice has called all judges [for a meeting to discuss the protests],' he said.

"With regards to Imran's repeated pledge of upholding the Constitution and ensuring the rule of law, Hashmi said that Imran did not care about the Constitution and said that the PTI chief acted as the king of his party. 'Imran accepts the Constitution only where it works in his favor. When it is otherwise, he abandons it,' Hashmi charged."

MEMRI Report: "Living In Pakistan For The Past Few Days … [UAE's Regional Spy Chief Shuja Pasha] Has Been Deciding All The Programs Of Both The Movements [Led By Imran Khan And Maulana Qadri]"

On August 20, the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) released a report translated from a leading Urdu-language daily in Pakistan, revealing how Lt.-Gen. Shuja Pasha (the former chief of Pakistan's ISI who now serves as the Regional Chief of the UAE's intelligence agency) has been planning the details of the protest rallies led by Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri. Pasha was appointed by the UAE as Regional Chief of its intelligence agency sometime in late-2013, according to a Pakistani daily.[6] Following are excerpts from the MEMRI dispatch:[7]

"Extremely reliable sources have confirmed that the entire planning of the recent movements of Imran Khan and Maulana Qadri has been drawn up by Shuja Pasha, the former chief of the secret agency [Inter-Services Intelligence of the Pakistani Army]. And over the past few days he arrived in Pakistan, having left Dubai. After having retired as the chief of the secret agency, Ahmed Shuja Pasha was serving in Dubai for the American secret agency [e.g. CIA].

"Living in Pakistan for the past few days, he has been deciding all the programs of both the movements [led by Imran Khan and Maulana Qadri separately to lead a people's march on Islamabad, on August 14, the Independence Day of Pakistan]. Two days ago [August 4 or 5], Shuja Pasha was present at the home of Shafqat Mahmood, the leader of [Pakistan] Tahreek-e-Insaf where Tahreek chief Imran Khan held a detailed meeting and listened to his advice attentively.

"Before his retirement [as head of ISI], Shuja Pasha was desirous of an extension in his tenure, but the then-prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani had clearly refused to give him an extension, as the then-opposition leader Nawaz Sharif had publicly opposed any extension for him. It is said that the People's Party government [led by Gilani] also had been opposed to an extension for him but was unable to decide, but when Nawaz Sharif opposed it at a public platform, it became easy for it [the Gilani government] to decide [against the extension].

"After that, General Pasha, who had already been disliked by Nawaz Sharif, became a personal enemy of Nawaz Sharif. Sources say that the big rally organized by Imran Khan at Minara-e-Pakistan in Lahore in October 2011 also was a show [at the behest] of General Pasha for which he used unlimited resources. These days General Pasha is engaged in efforts for uniting Imran Khan and Maulana Qadri [at a single platform], which is not succeeding due to Imran Khan's fear that in such an event Imran's public acceptance will be affected [adversely] because in the public, Maulana Qadri's popularity is not so good…"

Editorial In Pakistani Daily 'Dawn': "The Carefully Constructed Veneer Of Neutrality That The Army Leadership Had Constructed Through Much Of The National Political Crisis … Has Been Torn Apart"

Following are excerpts from a September 2 editorial:[8]

"The carefully constructed veneer of neutrality that the army leadership had constructed through much of the national political crisis instigated by Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri has been torn apart. First came the army's statement on Sunday [August 31], the third in a series of statements in recent days on the political crisis, which quite astonishingly elevated the legitimacy and credibility of the demands of Imran Khan, Tahirul Qadri, and their violent protesters above that of the choices and actions of an elected government dealing with a political crisis.

"Consider the sequence of events so far. When the army first publicly waded into the political crisis, it counselled restraint on all sides - as though it were the government that fundamentally still had some questions hanging over its legitimacy simply because Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri alleged so. Next, the army crept towards the Khan/Qadri camp by urging the government to facilitate negotiations - as though it was the government that was being unreasonable, and not Mr. Khan and Mr. Qadri.

"Now, staggeringly, the army has 'advised' the government not to use force against violent protesters and essentially told it to make whatever concessions necessary to placate Mr. Khan and Mr. Qadri. It is simply extraordinary that it is the PAT and PTI supporters who want to break into and occupy state buildings, but it is the government that has been rebuked. It's as if the army is unaware - rather, unwilling - to acknowledge the constitutional scheme of things: it is the government that is supposed to give orders to the army, not the other way around.

"The government has already issued its order: invoking Article 245 [empowering the army to ensure law and order in the city]. On Saturday, as violent thugs attacked parliament, it was surely the army’s duty to repel them. But the soldiers stationed there did nothing and the army leadership the next day warned the government instead of the protesters - which largely explains why the protesters were able to continue their pitched battles with the police and attacked the PTV headquarters yesterday [September 1].

If that were not enough, yesterday also brought another thunderbolt: this time from within the PTI with party president Javed Hashmi indicating that Mr. Khan is essentially doing what he has been asked and encouraged to do by the army leadership. It took the ISPR a few hours to respond with the inevitable denial, but a mere denial is inadequate at this point. The functioning of the state stands paralyzed because a few thousand protesters and their leaders have laid siege to state institutions. Where is the army condemnation of that?"

Islamic cleric Tahirul Qadri (image:

'Daily Times' Editorial: "A 'Soft' Coup, Which Involves The Surrender Of Policy Space By The Civilian Elected Government To The Military … May Be The Price Nawaz Sharif Has To Pay To Stay In Power"

The following are excerpts from a Daily Times editorial dated August 31:[9]

"The concern on the part of the 11 [political] parties who have been standing with the government in this situation is understandable in light of our history. Pakistan has had more than its share of direct and indirect military interventions, coups, and manipulation behind the scenes. Perhaps the real change we are witnessing is that Pakistani society today may be less tolerant of any attempt at a 'hard' coup (a military takeover), the judiciary may not be complicit in legitimizing it as in the past, the media would probably make life hard for any such adventure, and international opinion and the western powers would look askance.

"The difficulties of running Pakistan today are also immense. Without legitimacy or popular support, it may be difficult for any dispensation [military or civilian], irrespective of the manner of its ascent to power, to manage the country when it is beset with enormous problems of terrorism and the economy's slide, amongst others. However, a 'soft' coup, which involves the surrender of policy space by the civilian elected government to the military, as is being speculated may be the price Nawaz Sharif has to pay to stay in power, is something the forces that support democracy and constitutionalism may not even become aware of before it is too late to reverse.

"Two areas of security, defense, and foreign policy that seem up for grabs are the stance on Afghanistan as it nears endgame, and relations with India. The former involves reversing this government's 'hands off' stance to allow an Afghan-owned, Afghan-led political process find resolution of that unfortunate country's future after the Western forces leave. The latter conditions improvement in relations with New Delhi and economic cooperation on progress in the Kashmir dispute. In addition, a troubled area in the civil-military relationship is the issue of [former Pakistan Army chief General Pervez] Musharraf's trial for treason.

"On all three, the military is today placed in a position to demand concessions from the government. Nawaz Sharif may decide to concede these areas in order to live to fight another day. But such a denouement would once again immeasurably weaken the hoped-for-continuation of democracy and serve as a reminder that the more things appear to change, the more they remain the same in Pakistan."

'Daily Times' Editorial: "A Motley Crowd Of Rowdy Supporters Should Not Be Allowed To Overthrow An Elected Government"

Following are excerpts from a Daily Times editorial dated September 2:[10]

"[The Corp Commanders' meeting] has still not entirely allayed the fear of the government's weakening opening the door to the army's carving out for itself a larger chunk of control in the arena of security and foreign policy, especially involving India and Afghanistan. The army's formulation to support the democratic system does not automatically mean it supports the incumbent government too. That is still a grey area so far.

"To consolidate its political support further, the government in the meantime has called a joint session of parliament… It has also decided that parliament will remain in session so long as the sit-in continues. This parliament versus street confrontation seems destined to settle parliament's sovereign status. In any case, a motley crowd of rowdy supporters should not be allowed to overthrow an elected government. The PM's reiteration of his resolve not to resign at gunpoint will save the country from setting a wrong precedent, and is therefore a welcome step.

"Amidst this cacophony, the role of the electronic media in broadcasting unsubstantiated rumors is irresponsible and deplorable. If the attack on journalists by the police was wrong and condemnable, the media's role in jumping to the (wrong) conclusions is as bad."



[1] (Pakistan), September 1, 2014.

[4] The News (Pakistan), September 2, 2014.

[5] The News (Pakistan), September 2, 2014.

[8] Dawn (Pakistan), September 2, 2014.

[9] Daily Times (Pakistan), August 31, 2014.

[10] Daily Times (Pakistan), September 2, 2014.

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