Compromised, Cornered, Conquered


Andleeb Abbas
Another leak. Audio? A video? Of judges? Of politicians? Panama Leaks? Paradise Leaks? Wiki Leaks? No, but? These are the speculations taking place on the latest haemorrhages of top secrets on Discord Leak. It is still leaking. How big the hole is will only be found when all investigations are complete. However, one thing is certain no leak in the world is complete without leaks from Pakistan. This time these leaks are on serious foreign policy issues. These leaks are on a top-secret exchange. These leaks are a top policy direction dilemma being discussed between the PM and the MOS of the Foreign ministry. It does not get more strategic. It does not get more secretive. It does not get more official. And, it does not get more disastrous.
In Pakistan, this has been a season of leaks. The phones are leaking. The hotlines are spraying. The chat groups are overflowing. In all this information spillage, from politicians to judges to lawyers, to their wives, to their grandmothers, to their mothers-in-law, Peeping Toms and Eavesdropping Harrys have been working overtime to create breaking news. The “breaking” news is almost literal. These leaks intend to break the resisting forces by making their secrets open. These leaks intend to break the following of the popular party/person. These leaks intend to silence the voices that are too loud and blunt in blurting the truth. These leaks intend to create a dent in the narrative that has made a lot of hitherto invincible sectors vulnerable. In this noisy din of the local leaks market, this international leak almost went unnoticed till the Washington Post story took rounds. This leak is a much bigger leak for Pakistan but the government is almost mum on it. The “no speak, let it pass” strategy will not work due to:
1. Questions Must be Answered-This is a matter of national security and official privacy. Audio leaks Season 3 is on. The first season was focusing on Imran Khan and other leader’s private life. Then the political conversations of women leaders of PTI. And, finally, Season 3 on Judges and their lives. This serial release has somehow not answered many important questions that may have led to this national security breach of Discord Leaks published in the Washington Post. The main questions are- Who is recording these conversations? Who has access to such technology that tapes and records private calls? Is it a hacking operation? Who releases these conversations to the media? Why are the court cases on breach of privacy not being taken up? Why is the government not undertaking a forensic of these videos if they are such breaking news? As nothing was done on the earlier videos, all attention was focused on more such stuff. Is this the reason why this resulted in the lack of focus on matters of official secret nature? Is this the reason that matters of grave nature that involve Pakistan’s top-level foreign policy are left to be splashed all over the world? Is there going to be another push-it-under-the-table strategy? Is it a case of the government compromising the standards of access to information and in return getting compromised themselves? Unfortunately, the “no questions asked” approach has and will cause more ingress and penetration in matters that violate official secret acts.
2. Content is a giveaway-The Discord Leaks are not just another tapping and eavesdropping of other people’s talk, it is a sophisticated operation by some young genius community groups far away. This was developed during the pandemic as a gun enthusiast became bored with isolation. He is the man behind a massive leak of U.S. government secrets that has exposed spying on allies, revealed the grim prospects for Ukraine’s war with Russia and ignited diplomatic fires for the White House. He shared highly classified documents with a group of far-flung acquaintances. This genius also managed with the same technology to transgress Pakistan’s top-level foreign policy meetings. The leaks paint a dangerous picture of our dangerous tilts of foreign policy. These tilts can be disastrous for an already fragile international position of the country. They reveal Pakistan’s new government’s desire to appease the West at the cost of ties with China. The documents reveal PM Shehbaz’s conversation regarding the United Nations’ voting on the Ukraine and Russia conflict. The document, dated February 17, shows that the government was concerned about renewed Western pressure to back a resolution condemning Russia’s invasion. The Minister of State Hina Rabbani Khar told the PM that supporting the measure would signal a shift in Pakistan’s position following its earlier abstention on a similar resolution. The leaks also said that Islamabad could negotiate trade and energy deals with Russia, and backing the resolution could jeopardize those ties. How will this revelation affect Pakistan’s relations with Russia and China is anybody’s guess. Even more dangerous is the fact that the government is ready to compromise national interest over its interest of appeasing countries they believe were supporting the vote of no confidence as certified by their own National Security meeting minutes.
3. The Consequential Price- Compromises are at a cost. This government came with the promise to reduce inflation and take a stand against “PTIMF” as they used to call it. As soon as they took over the government, Miftah as Finance minister, said IMF Is the only option. Dar as the minister of finance in waiting said he will “deal with IMF” as there were other options. Both have failed and they have failed in both. Neither have they been able to reduce inflation and take measures to improve revenue through exports and tax collection nor despite putting Pakistan through the worst-ever inflation and economic hardship have they been able to woo IMF. The fact that the PM keeps saying we have done all IMF has asked and so the staff-level agreement with IMF is around the corner is itself a compromise. The fact that the IMF has treated Pakistan with disdain is just a harsh truth. The fact that our friends in need like Saudi Arabia and UAE are now avoiding making any commitment is an insult to injury. Meanwhile, the country has lost 900000 professional workers who have chosen foreign countries that offer more hope and stability. We are paying a heavy price in the shape of brain drain, industry closures, unemployment, insecurity and law and order issues.
Imagine a country in heavy debt. Imagine a country desperate to receive more debts to pay off earlier debts. Imagine a country without an alternative plan. Imagine a country whose decision-makers are only banking on aid, loans, appeals, grants and debt. This is a classic basket case of a debt-trapped, compromised nation. The treatment of IMF, the revelation of discord leaks and the double speak of our leaders show how cornered they are and how conquered their mindset is. As the PM himself said beggars can’t be choosers, he must realize that begging is not sustainable. With no other strategy in sight, the nation is just on the verge of a revolt. But the PM is busy attending the crowning of King Charles in London, the FM is busy flying to Goa despite the refusal of the Indian FM to meet him, and the Finance Minister is busy saying “What Elections” in the parliament. As they say “There are none as blind as those who cannot see.”