Ongoing Jinnahpur controversy
Asif Haroon Raja
The Jinnahpur raucous induced considerable tremors in body politics of Pakistan in July 1992 and pulled the Army into gushing lava of acrimony and accusations. My innocuous remarks given in reply to a question of a journalist on Jinnahpur on 17 July 1992 in Karachi was twisted and drummed up callously. The Press guns remained trained on me and my name dragged into the slime. Absence of clarification ostensibly was being regarded, quite contrary to the truth, that whatever the tabloids had printed was correct.
The controversy was kept alive by Altaf Hussain and other MQM leaders throughout these 17 years. While the Army was absolved by the MQM, I was made the target of MQM. Story was twisted that I had fabricated Jinnahpur map and especially invited journalists from Punjab to Karachi and handed them the map along with some documents during my Press briefing on 17 July 1992.
Jinnahpur controversy has once again raised its ugly head with full steam from 23 August 2009 onwards. Brig Â® Imtiaz Ahmed, ex Director IB and ex ISI man, has provided desired grist to the hungry electronic media to reignite the issue. He said Jinnahpur was a mere drama. Retired Lt Gen Naseer Akhtar, (Corps Commander 5 Corps 1991-1993) lent strength to his assertion saying he had come to know of it two days after my press briefing and it had saddened him. Retired Lt Gen Asad Durrani, ex DGMI and DGISI reiterated that he had no information on Jinnahpur map but added that the map was certainly not the basis of starting the operation in Karachi.
Maj retired Nadeem Dar claimed on Geo Talk Show of Hamid Mir that he was serving in Rangers in 1992 and had raided MQM Headquarters Nine Zero and recovered over 1000 copies of Jinnahpur map and dubbed Lt Gen Naseer as corrupt and Brig Naseer as infamous. Maj Gen retired Safdar Ali Khan disclosed on Geo TV that it is a fact that thousands of Jinnahpur maps had been recovered from MQM offices in 1992 operation. I was invited by Dr Shahid Masood to participate in his program Mere Mutabiq on 31 August 2009. My interview has also not been presented in accurate manner in "˜The News' dated 2 September 2009.
Notwithstanding the fact that all saner elements have already begun to see through a motivated game plan with certain ulterior motives, I have considered it proper to put the record straight since filibustering and media trial has affected my prestige as a citizen of Pakistan.
A team of Pindi journalists arranged by DG ISPR were given a sponsored tour of interior Sindh and Karachi in mid July 1992 to provide them first hand knowledge about progress of Operation Cleanup. They were given comprehensive briefings in Pannu Aqil by GOC 16 Division and at Hyderabad by GOC 18 Division. Journalists were brought to Karachi on evening of 16 July. A busy schedule was chalked out for them by HQ 5 Corps for 17th which included briefing by GOC 5 Corps Reserve Maj Gen Salim Malik, briefing followed by lunch with Chief Minister and dinner in Corps Mess.
"¢ I had been attached with HQ 5 Corps as Army Spokesman for one month in June-July 1992. Lt Gen Naseer Akhtar instructed me to brief the journalists. I tried to convince him that after comprehensive briefings of three GOCs, there would be nothing left for me to brief. He then asked me to take on questions after the briefing by Maj Gen Salim Malik on behalf of 5 Corps.
"¢ Maj Gen Salim's gave detailed briefing in his HQ on 17 July 1992, in which he highlighted the pathetic law and order situation of Karachi that had prevailed prior to 19 June and that Karachi had been made into a state within a state. He apprised them of the progress made with regard to recovery of arms and discovery of torture cells and curtailment of practice of car snatching, robberies and extortion and concluding that writ of government had been restored to a large extent. He then invited questions from the journalists and answered them.
"¢ It was during the brief question/answer session I held after his briefing that a slimy question on Jinnahpur was asked by one of the journalist. He said, "There are some reports that MQM had plans to establish "˜Urdu Desh' or "˜Jinnahpur'. Is there any truth in these reports published by a section of press? I replied, "We had also read such reports in the newspapers. Some posters showing sketch of Jinnahpur or Urdu Desh along with some other material were recovered by intelligence agencies from a unit office of the MQM in Kotri". He further asked if I could elaborate as to whom all could be behind it. I said that I know as much as they knew but some elements might have been toying with the idea.
"¢ What I said was magnified and distorted and flashed as headlines in next day's newspapers. Each newspaper gave out twisted presentation to what I had said. Headings of each newspaper of 18 July 1992 differed from each other. Sidelining briefing of Gen Malik, question/answer session conducted by me was given prominence. They picked up and covered the story in their own way and suiting their pre-dispositions. Words never uttered by me were attributed to me with a devious slant and laminated with motivated sensationalism.
"¢ A rejoinder/clarification was prepared and got formally approved from GHQ and ISPR and handed over to PRO Maj Chishti for publication in all newspapers on AN 18 July. The same was not cleared from the Corps Commander since he had left for Pindi. The clarification did not get published in 19 July 1992 newspapers since Lt Gen Naseer Akhtar forbade Maj Chishti to do so. The rejoinder was killed at 1 a.m. at night of 18/19 July. The PRO without intimating to me rescinded it. Had this clarification been printed, the whole matter would have come to rest and this would not have turned into a chronic controversy. The rejoinder got accidentally published in Observer Lahore of 19 July 1992. Since I was to return to Pindi on completion of my duty on the afternoon of 19 July, as such I could not even hold a Press briefing to straighten the record.
"¢ My main source of information about Jinnahpur map was GOC 18 Division Maj Gen Lehrasab Khan. He had informed me on 24 June 1992 in his office that a raiding team had recovered maps of Jinnahpur or Urdu Desh from MQM unit office in Kotri. Interview of MQM Haqiqi leader Aamir Khan published in Taqbeer Weekly of 2 July 1992 and in Akhbar Jahan 13-19 July 1992; and uttering of Benazir Bhutto in a seminar on Sindh on Jinnahpur in early July 1992 were also in the back of my mind.
"¢ The "˜Nation' of 21 July 1992 reported Commander 5 Corps having presented a map of Jinnahpur and his revelation of MQM's secession plan to create a separate Urdudesh/Jinnahpur during the 20 July 1992 Corps Commander Conference at Pindi.
"¢ The Jang newspaper carried a news item along with a map of Jinnahpur on 11 October 1992. It said, Jinnahpur plan hatched by MQM had been presented to the government by the Army. When the heat came directly on the Army, the ISPR issued an abrupt denial rather than the already published clarification (Observer Lahore, 19 July 1992). The ISPR note said, "The Army denies having said anything related to Jinnahpur". This shoddy denial gave heart to the MQM leaders and they started to make me responsible for everything connected with Operation Cleanup. My written requests to Army Chiefs to ask ISPR to straighten the record were not heeded to.
The writer is a defence and political analyst based at Rawalpindi and author of several books.Email:firstname.lastname@example.org