We tend to be very hard on the media. Anyone who is familiar with our twitter handle knows that we challenge incorrect information and any attempts to paint Pakistan unfairly.
At the same time, we also try to keep the Pakistani public aware of what is happening around them, without the spin. Yes, many people feel that we are pro-army.
They aren’t wrong. But they aren’t right either.
CommandEleven is a pro-Pakistan think tank. That means that we protect Pakistan’s interests, the state, the national interests.
So, when we see the public being taken for a ride, it bothers us.
And that’s what happened a few days ago.
Distribution to Target Audience
Last Friday morning, numerous WhatsApp groups in Pakistan distributed a badly written, unsupported book from a disgraced contractor. The groups immediately distributed to journalists, if they hadn’t gotten it already, and the marketing plan was off and running.
You have an unknown, disgraced contractor who had legal problems in Pakistan, where he had killed 2 people in cold-blood, and in the United States. Since the story is based on what happened in Pakistan, we won’t discuss the United States side.
First, may I ask a question? Doesn’t this book violate the Son of Sam Laws? From our understanding, that law means that the criminal may not profit from the crime.
Creating An Interest
Now, the intent of the book, and we are very loosely using that term for this work, was to disgrace Pakistan’s intelligence services and armed forces, while painting Pakistan as a country that was easily pressured. We are sure you weren’t thinking that for most of the day, while the media went crazy.
The key offender, the murderer, was moved to the background and General Shuja Pasha, former Director General – Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), was made the main character.
This was done by Pakistan’s media.
In most nations of the world, when their military is attacked by an outsider, especially someone who killed 2 of their own, they would tend to discredit the book, not the military. In Pakistan, we forgot the criminal and created a new crime – treason – for General Pasha.
Focus shifted. Interest in book created. Now, we need buzz.
And twitter went nuts debating a book, which few had read, and criticizing General Pasha for his decision making at the time. Within no time, the topic was trending. General Pasha severely questioned and Pakistan made to look willing to negotiate for a price.
Impact on the Actual Book
For any author or publishing house, this is a dream scenario. All they have to do is point to a few hashtags and everyone sees how interested an entire country is in a book, by a disgraced contractor, and they pay $13.99 for the Kindle copy. It’s a bestseller.
How the Plot was Lost
While this debate was going on, the truth was lost.
What was the truth?
Pakistan did what was best in its national interest.
The nation had a contracted CIA asset, with possible diplomatic cover, who had killed 2 men, possibly his informants, on the street in Lahore.
As a nation, we could have taken on a Geneva Convention violation, which could put every Pakistani diplomat at risk around the world. Or we could have made a deal?
The deal, as reported very late in the day, that General Pasha negotiated in return for releasing an intelligence asset, was the dismantling of the Blackwater and CIA network, facilitated by Husain Haqqani, Pakistan’s Ambassador to the US, and Asif Ali Zardari, President of Pakistan, that was approximately 330 intelligence assets.
According to the documentaries, Dirty Wars and The Spymasters – CIA in the Crosshairs, these CIA assets may have been working as spotters for drone strikes in tribal areas or part of the elite JSOC team responsible for snatching Pakistanis from their own country.
This is what was taken from US intelligence by the same General Pasha that was being harangued in the media, online forums and social media.
Are we defending General Pasha? Yes. He was a superior officer, a distinguished leader and a warrior.
But is that the point? No.
What is the point?
What a disgraced contractor, with a manipulative marketing strategy, did was fool the entire nation into creating a basis for an argument. While the entire case of the contractor has been dead and gone for so long, why the book timed now? Why was it given away for free to any Pakistani that wanted it?
Here’s what really happened.
You were feed a story about an intelligence asset that came into your country, killed 2 Pakistanis and was able to walk away by paying a cash price.
Currently, India has a case against Pakistan in the International Criminal Court, claiming that we have unfairly sentenced a citizen of theirs to death on charges of espionage, according to Pakistan.
They are denied consular access because he is a spy, according to Pakistan.
Pakistan claims that their citizen planned and carried out terrorist attacks, assassinations, and raised insurgencies in their country, says India.
That was the case before, when India was able to get a stay on the execution order.
Then, the pressure started on the government. An Indian business tycoon visited Pakistan to see his old friend, the Prime Minister. The Indian media began reporting that their spy could appeal to the Chief of Army Staff and the President for clemency, something that had not been said by Pakistan’s officials.
And then Abdul Basit said it – the sentence is not final. We will hold the execution until the International Criminal Court decides the case.
Dissent in the ranks of Pakistan’s power corridors. If the military wanted to execute, they were stopped by the government’s statement.
The DawnLeaks issue is decided in favor of the Prime Minister and the accused parties are allowed to offer sacrificial lambs to take their places. The nation is angry at the armed forces for taking a deal.
And then this badly written, poorly sourced book arrives in everyone’s hands and the idea of Pakistan’s government and military negotiating a deal becomes something possible.
Why? Because the media and the people believed a different story for a period of time. Many still believe the book, that they probably have never even seen, much less read.
And the foundation is created to negotiate a deal for an Indian spy that all of Pakistan wants dead for killing 80,000 of our citizens.
The nation got played and happily went along for the ride.
We have a phrase at CommandEleven – be a victim or a volunteer. A victim is someone who fights to the end. A volunteer submits.
Which one were you?
Also published on Medium.