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User Name: Asif_Haroon_Raja
Full Name: Asif Haroon Raja
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Brouhaha on Jinnahpur conspiracy

Asif Haroon Raja

 

Law and order situation in urban and rural Sindh that was deteriorating for some years because of rural-urban ethnic divide worsened in 1992 and writ of Sindh government got seriously compromised. Terrorists, extortionists and thugs mostly affiliated with MQM had made the security situation in Karachi explosive. Dacoits in interior Sindh patronized by waderas, patharidars (front men of Sindhi feudal lords) and some sitting ministers had paralysed road movement.

Operation Cleanup was launched against dacoits in interior Sindh against dacoits on 20 May 1992. It came under tremendous pressure at the very outset as a result of fall out of an unfortunate incident in village Tando Bahawal in interior Sindh in which one Major Arshad in league with local landlord who had personal feud with another group killed 9 villagers under the plea that they were dacoits. Although the officer was tried and hanged to death but it had its negative impact on the army. This together with death of two Sindhi Patharidars  in the custody of law enforcement agencies and release of firebrand APMSO leader Shahood Hashmi put the army image in the dock.    

When propaganda snipes against the Army became pungent and its image started getting affected, the ISPR was asked to check the downslide. When the then DG ISPR Maj Gen Jahangir Nasrullah retracted from undertaking this onerous job and dragged his feet, Gen Asif Nawaz Janjua nominated me as Army Spokesman and deputed me to proceed to Karachi on attachment with HQ 5 Corps to handle the media. I was performing the duties of Director of a sensitive directorate in early 1990s in GHQ. In a very short time I had revolutionized this dormant organization and earned appreciation from all and sundry including the COAS.

I was required to build rapport with rural-urban Press and win their confidence, put an end to speculative sensationalism by media and build up image of army. Despite having no past experience and devoid of any where-withal, I conducted series of Press briefings most befittingly in the charged atmosphere of Sindh and received generous praises from all quarters. Having filled the communication gap and developed a rapport with the Press mafia, the image of the Army ascended sky high. 47 countries gave live coverage of my press briefings on progress of operations in rural-urban Sindh in a very positive manner. I used to receive tens of applications from people of interior Sindh and Karachi daily asking me to redress their grievances.

A team of Rawalpindi journalists arranged by DG ISPR were given a sponsored tour of interior Sindh and Karachi in mid July 1992. Although primary purpose was to provide them first hand knowledge about progress of Operation Cleanup particularly in interior Sindh, however, in actuality the left out ISPR wanted to demonstrate its activity. The journalists spent two nights in Panu Aqil where they were given comprehensive briefing and tour to Katcha Area by GOC 16 Division Maj Gen Salim Arshad. Their next stop was in Hyderabad where they were briefed by GOC 18 Division Maj Gen Lehrasab Khan. They were taken to Katcho Area as well. The journalists were brought to Karachi on the evening of 16 July since they were to be given on 17th by GOC 5 Corps Reserve Maj Gen Salim Malik. Lt Gen Naseer Akhtar, Corps Commander 5 Corps instructed me to take on questions of the visiting journalists after the briefing by Maj Gen Salim Malik on behalf of Corps.

Maj Gen Salim gave out comprehensive briefing and question/answer session in his HQ at Malir Cantt 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.

It looked quite out of place for me to come on the rostrum and conduct another session of question/answer. Some journalists pointed this anomaly to me in a sarcastic tone. It was during brief question/answer session 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 you know but some elements within MQM might have been toying with the idea.

What I said was magnified and distorted and flashed as headlines in the 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 the 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.

The media in its motivated errand put such words into my mouth which were never uttered by me in the manner as projected. A bland answer to a question was sensationalized out of all proportions. I had never said that Jinnahpur would be a separate country. I did not utter the word Hong Kong, acting as a model for Jinnahpur. I did not refer to MQM as a political party, which was pursuing the idea of secession or working for the establishment of an independent state. I did not say that the army intelligence had confirmed reports on MQM’s pursuits for Jinnahpur.

I will narrate reporting of some of the newspapers of 18 July 1992:- Jang said: Altaf Hussain planned to make Karachi as a separate state on the model of Hong Kong. The News chanted, ‘MQM planned a separate homeland’. The Muslim hymned, ‘MQM was out to dismember the country’. The Watan chimed, ‘MQM had plans for establishment of Urdu Desh’. Evening Special Karachi screamed, ‘The proof of MQM complicity in conspiring to create Jinnahpur or Urdu Desh found’. While some newspapers reported Jinnahpur out of geographic limits of Pakistan, others elected to create it within the territorial frontiers of Pakistan. No newspaper said that a map of Jinnahpur was presented.    

A rejoinder/clarification was jointly prepared by me, Lt Col Arshad Alwi, PRO Lt Col (now retired Brig) Saulat Raza, ex Director ISPR Brig ® T.M. Siddiqui and got formally approved from the VCGS, CGS as well as the A/DG ISPR Brig Iqbal. The same was not cleared from the Corps Commander 5 Corps since he had left for Rawalpindi to attend funeral of Lt Gen Burki on 19th morning. The rejoinder was handed over to the PRO Maj Chishti (now retired Lt Col) on AN 18 July 1992 for publication in the newspapers.  However, to my utter surprise I found that the same had not been published in the following day’s newspapers since Gen Naseer Akhtar forbade Maj Chishti to do so. 

When Chishti informed Gen Naseer on the evening of 18 July that the clarification was being given to the Press after getting necessary clearance from the VCGS, CGS and ISPR, he retorted back angrily that he had obtained the blessing of the COAS and that whatever already published in the newspaper on Jinnahpur would stay in the same form. He warned him that many heads would roll if any kind of clarification was published in the Press. 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 much to the annoyance and chagrin of many.

Since I was to return to Rawalpindi 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. The Press was at liberty to fabricate the story in true yellow journalistic spirit and kept on playing with it without a breather.

PPP leading the opposition in collusion with a section of media exploited the issue to the hilt. From 18 July 1992 onward, yellow journalism kicked up unwarranted polemics by design. The insinuations did not stop there but proposed a toast to the army which was full of muck and moist for the army image as it suggested an unholy alliance between the vested interests and the Army. The Press guns remained trained on me and my name lugged into the gunk. Absence of clarification ostensibly was being regarded, quite contrary to the truth, that whatever the tabloids had printed was correct.

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 Urdu Desh/Jinnahpur during the 20 July 1992 Corps Commander Conference at Rawalpindi. In actuality, he had showed the said map to the then PM Nawaz Sharif and President Ghulam Ishaq Khan during their visit to GHQ on 20 July for their information since the two were upset over the publication of news item of 18 July and did not want this issue to come to light. Political will of the leadership had by then sapped as was evident from the meeting of Nawaz Sharif with Altaf Hussain in London who was in self-exile. 

 

The Jang Lahore newspaper carried a news item along with a map of Jinnahpur on 11 October 1992. It said documentary evidence in the form of Jinnahpur plan hatched by the MQM, comprising Karachi, Hyderabad, Thatta, Badin and areas of upper Sindh, had been presented to the government by the army.

The Opposition pressed for a debate on Jinnahpur. Dawn of 15 October 1992 reported about two separate adjournment motions moved by the PDA and Jamaat-e-Islami to discuss the conspiracy. Chaudhri Nisar Ali stated on 17 October that Jinnahpur plot did not exist. ANP leader Ajmal Khattak also reiterated that there was no truth that MQM planned to create Jinnahpur state.  

The print media remained ablaze with Jinnahpur controversy especially after members of National Assembly went berserk on 18 October 1992 and indulged in obnoxious altercation flouting the norms of the sacred House. The promethean fire for the Press countenance had been borrowed from the misdemeanor of Opposition members and certain members of Treasury in the House. The fiery exchange of words were got expunged by the Speaker of the Assembly.

The News of 19 October 1992 reported that the Opposition leader late Benazir raised the newspaper clippings of 18 July and said as to why no action had so far been taken on Jinnahpur after the conspiracy had been revealed by Brig Asif Haroon and why the government was covering it up unless it was party to the plot.  The then interior minister Chaudhri Shujaat had to take cover behind my lone rejoinder published in Pakistan Observer on 19 July 1992 saying it had been rebutted. He added that Jinnahpur conspiracy was a figment of imagination of PDA. Farooq Leghari refuted it and sought inquest by high powered commission. (Dawn - October 21, 1992). Asif Zardari too demanded action against plotters of Jinnahpur. 

Now that the heat came directly on the army, the ISPR issued an abrupt denial on 19 October rather than the already published clarification (Observer Lahore, 19 July 1992), as a consequence to the Jang news item. 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. I was vilified for being the brainchild behind the creation of MQM Haqiqui, torture cells and the Jinnahpur map. Ever since, this issue keeps cropping up in the newspapers.

Dr. Imran Farooq, a self-exiled leader of the MQM, addressed an open letter to Gen Pervez Musharraf on 6 November 1999. He was asked to investigate the shameless allegation made by Brig Asif Haroon in his Press briefing in Karachi in 1992 that the MQM was involved in creating Jinnahpur (Separate State). I was accused of inviting a team of handpicked journalists from Punjab to Karachi and presenting a self-made map of Jinnahpur to them. I was also accused of having this news item published in all the national newspapers and that the fake and self-made map of Jinnahpur was provided to the newspapers for publication.

In his book titled “Establishment Ki Seh Jehti Hikmat Amli’, June 2000, the MQM Party leader Altaf Hussain accused me of fabricating Jinnahpur conspiracy and making a false Jinnahpur map at the behest of GHQ. The MQM Head Office opened a web site on my name to implicate me on the above stated aspects. A video clip of Altaf Hussain address in London shows him waving a poster asserting that I had fabricated the Jinnahpur map.  He mentioned my name in almost every telephonic address he made from London or any interview he gave to a visiting journalist from Pakistan. Last interview was given to Najam Sethi in July which was telecast on Dunya channel. In his telephonic address on August 24, 2009, he again mentioned my name. 

As regards my sources of reply to the question on Jinnahpur, it was based on information I gathered from GOC 18 Division Maj Gen Lehrasab Khan who later became Corps Commander 5 Corps in 1994. During my visit to Hyderabad on 24 June 1992 for my Press briefing he informed me that law enforcing agencies had recovered Jinnahpur maps with some documents in a raid on unit office of MQM at Kotri. He looked visibly disturbed while giving me the news. I procured a copy of this map and related documents from HQ 5 Corps on the afternoon of 18 July 1992, that is, a day after Maj Gen Salim Malik’s Press briefing for my record on advice of Maj Gen Jamshed Malik. The sponsor of the map was Faruqul Hassan Jillani, an MQM unit office in-charge at Kotri.

‘Jinnahpur’ phoenix kept raging in the newspapers for quite sometime. Late Benazir Bhutto mentioned it several times including seminar on Sindh in early July 1992. MQM Haqiqi leader Aamir Khan, in his Press conference published in Weekly Taqbeer 2 July 1992 and his interview published in Akhbar-e-Jahan Afaq Ahmed stated that reason for his group to part with Altaf group was that they had plans to divide Sindh and disintegrate Pakistan. Jinnahpur maps had been displayed in Hyderabad in past also.

I explained the whole episode to the then COAS through a detailed minute sheet. I also attached newspaper clippings of 18 July 1992 to highlight the visible slant in their reporting. I mentioned that the matter was grossly sensationalized; I was not given a chance to render a rejoinder to the mis-reported news item; it was purposely allowed to stay as it was and to fester and create foul odor. I strongly recommended that a comprehensive clarification must be issued so that the future exploitation of the issue is deterred for good. However, the then CGS Lt Gen Farrakh Khan did not agree with my contention saying that the (ill-conceived) denial by the ISPR was good enough. The COAS concurred to his suggestion. I again raised this issue with Gen Jahangir Karamat and later apprised my course mate VCOAS Gen Muhammad Yusaf. My last letter on the subject was addressed to Gen Pervez Musharraf dated 7 April 2001. None bothered to reply me. Gen Musharraf distanced himself from me and denied me job throughout his stay in power. I was hounded out of MQM dominated KRL where I was employed as Director Education. Jinnahpur controversy had also come in my way of promotion.

17 years have lapsed but the controversy has not died down. It was intentionally kept alive by Altaf Hussain and other MQM leaders. While the Army was absolved by the MQM, I was made the target of MQM. The 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 stating that MQM was all set to create a separate state of Jinnahpur. Taking full advantage of the 19 October ISPR denial, MQM leaders have continuously shed tears of innocence and held me responsible for branding them as traitors. A perception was created that downfall of MQM Altaf Group on 19 June was masterminded by me. MQM went to the extent of spreading news that MQM Haqiqi was sponsored by me and I had invented torture cells in Karachi to defame the party. I was put on the hit list of MQM.

Debate on Jinnahpur controversy and some other dead issues was suddenly triggered by Brig ® Imtiaz having a notorious past with certain defined political motives. He claimed that there was no truth in Jinnahpur map and it was a mere drama to defame MQM. Lt Gen ® Naseer Akhtar claimed on Aaj TV on 23 August 2009 that he knew nothing about Jinnahpur map. Lt Gen ® Asad Durrani who was serving as IGT&E in GHQ in 1992 reiterated his stance. Their contention is not based on truth since other than my source; three senior army officers and one major have now disclosed that maps had been discovered from MQM unit offices in Karachi and Nine Zero.

Based on the certificates of not guilty issued by Brig Imtiaz and Lt Gen Naseer, Altaf Hussain made a telephonic address to the emotion packed gathering of his followers on 24 August 2009. He shed copious tears asserting that their innocence has finally been proven but at the cost of extreme rigors and loss of over 15000 innocent workers of MQM.  He and other MQM leaders took a new stance that presentation of fabricated map and describing MQM as anti-state became the basis of Operation Cleanup in urban Sindh. They forgot that while the operation commenced on 19 June 1992, controversy of Jinnahpur map cropped up on 18 July. On the stance taken by PML-N that Operation Cleanup in urban Sindh had been initiated by the Army without taking Nawaz Sharif into confidence, Altaf Hussain countered as to why he did not stop the operation which resulted in killing of over 15000 activists of MQM at the hands of security forces. The bogus claim was made as an afterthought to portray MQM victim of oppression, to malign PML-N leadership and gain sympathy of people of Pakistan.

In their bid to clear the party of the charge of Jinnahpur, they appear to have inadvertently landed in more trouble. Maj retired Nadeem Dar revealed on Geo Talk Show of Hamid Mir on 24 August 2009 that he was serving in Rangers in Karachi in 1992 and had raided MQM Headquarters Nine Zero and recovered over 1000 copies of Jinnahpur map and dubbed Lt Gen Naseer a liar and  corrupt and Brig Naseer as ill-reputed. Maj Gen retired Safdar Ali Khan; former DG Rangers disclosed on Geo TV on 30 August that it is a fact that thousands of Jinnahpur maps had been recovered from MQM offices in 1992 operation. He added that Pakistan flag had been burned in Hyderabad in 1987 by MQM activists during the public address of Altaf Hussain. Lt Gen ® Amjad Shouab, whose troops had taken part in Operation Cleanup, reiterated that he was in knowledge that Jinnahpur maps had been recovered in Karachi in 1992. Brig ® Saulat Raza, ex ISPR confirmed in a talk show on Geo TV on 31 August that maps, flags and documents were recovered form an MQM unit office in Karachi on 19 June 1992.

Nusrat Mirza, a journalist by profession, who was heading Mahajir Rabata Committee in early 1990s, revealed in Geo TV talk show on 3 September, t hat formation of Jinnahpur state was a tactical plan of MQM. He said that Altaf Hussain had announced in a meeting in his presence that if operation was launched against MQM, they would seek outside assistance. He confirmed existence of torture cells. MQM senior leader Haider Abbas Rizvi was part of the talk show.     

Besides Jinnahpur, several other old cases have been brought to fore to muddy the political climate. Saner elements saw through a motivated game plan with certain ulterior motives. Real issues were sidelined and dead issues dug up and air given to non-issues. PML-N felt it was a PPP-MQM conspiracy masterminded by Presidency to pull down rapidly rising popularity of PML-N, scuttle move of PML-N to put Gen Musharraf on trial, thwart minus one formula, put judiciary on the defensive while dealing with 12 May 2007 bloodbath in Karachi, divert attention of masses from their incompetence, mega corruption scandals and to smokescreen the arrival of US Marines and Blackwater elements.  Others feel it was an attempt to foil efforts of judiciary to open up 12 May 2007 cases.

Whatever the significance of said map, the fact of the matter is that it made no impact on the political standing of MQM. Maps have never been made into an issue by any ruling regime or the Army. MQM has remained in power in coalition with both PML-N and PPP both in Sindh and in the centre in all the successive governments. It is in good books of USA and UK and is now all set to turn into a national party and hopes that by 2015 it will become the leading party. But for May 2007 debacle, MQM would have captured few seats from Punjab in 2008 elections. It has already made political inroads in AJK and Gilgit-Baltistan. Altaf Hussain besides raising his voice against Jagirdars, dynastic politics and decayed feudal system of governance has also expressed his support for the cause of Kashmiris saying that the issue must be resolved at the earliest. He has however yet to define the terms on which he seeks a solution.

 

The writer is a retired Brig and a defence and political analyst. Email: asifharoon7751@yahoo.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brouhaha on Jinnahpur conspiracy

Asif Haroon Raja

 

Law and order situation in urban and rural Sindh that was deteriorating for some years because of rural-urban ethnic divide worsened in 1992 and writ of Sindh government got seriously compromised. Terrorists, extortionists and thugs mostly affiliated with MQM had made the security situation in Karachi explosive. Dacoits in interior Sindh patronized by waderas, patharidars (front men of Sindhi feudal lords) and some sitting ministers had paralysed road movement.

Operation Cleanup was launched against dacoits in interior Sindh against dacoits on 20 May 1992. It came under tremendous pressure at the very outset as a result of fall out of an unfortunate incident in village Tando Bahawal in interior Sindh in which one Major Arshad in league with local landlord who had personal feud with another group killed 9 villagers under the plea that they were dacoits. Although the officer was tried and hanged to death but it had its negative impact on the army. This together with death of two Sindhi Patharidars  in the custody of law enforcement agencies and release of firebrand APMSO leader Shahood Hashmi put the army image in the dock.    

When propaganda snipes against the Army became pungent and its image started getting affected, the ISPR was asked to check the downslide. When the then DG ISPR Maj Gen Jahangir Nasrullah retracted from undertaking this onerous job and dragged his feet, Gen Asif Nawaz Janjua nominated me as Army Spokesman and deputed me to proceed to Karachi on attachment with HQ 5 Corps to handle the media. I was performing the duties of Director of a sensitive directorate in early 1990s in GHQ. In a very short time I had revolutionized this dormant organization and earned appreciation from all and sundry including the COAS.

I was required to build rapport with rural-urban Press and win their confidence, put an end to speculative sensationalism by media and build up image of army. Despite having no past experience and devoid of any where-withal, I conducted series of Press briefings most befittingly in the charged atmosphere of Sindh and received generous praises from all quarters. Having filled the communication gap and developed a rapport with the Press mafia, the image of the Army ascended sky high. 47 countries gave live coverage of my press briefings on progress of operations in rural-urban Sindh in a very positive manner. I used to receive tens of applications from people of interior Sindh and Karachi daily asking me to redress their grievances.

A team of Rawalpindi journalists arranged by DG ISPR were given a sponsored tour of interior Sindh and Karachi in mid July 1992. Although primary purpose was to provide them first hand knowledge about progress of Operation Cleanup particularly in interior Sindh, however, in actuality the left out ISPR wanted to demonstrate its activity. The journalists spent two nights in Panu Aqil where they were given comprehensive briefing and tour to Katcha Area by GOC 16 Division Maj Gen Salim Arshad. Their next stop was in Hyderabad where they were briefed by GOC 18 Division Maj Gen Lehrasab Khan. They were taken to Katcho Area as well. The journalists were brought to Karachi on the evening of 16 July since they were to be given on 17th by GOC 5 Corps Reserve Maj Gen Salim Malik. Lt Gen Naseer Akhtar, Corps Commander 5 Corps instructed me to take on questions of the visiting journalists after the briefing by Maj Gen Salim Malik on behalf of Corps.

Maj Gen Salim gave out comprehensive briefing and question/answer session in his HQ at Malir Cantt 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.

It looked quite out of place for me to come on the rostrum and conduct another session of question/answer. Some journalists pointed this anomaly to me in a sarcastic tone. It was during brief question/answer session 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 you know but some elements within MQM might have been toying with the idea.

What I said was magnified and distorted and flashed as headlines in the 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 the 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.

The media in its motivated errand put such words into my mouth which were never uttered by me in the manner as projected. A bland answer to a question was sensationalized out of all proportions. I had never said that Jinnahpur would be a separate country. I did not utter the word Hong Kong, acting as a model for Jinnahpur. I did not refer to MQM as a political party, which was pursuing the idea of secession or working for the establishment of an independent state. I did not say that the army intelligence had confirmed reports on MQM’s pursuits for Jinnahpur.

I will narrate reporting of some of the newspapers of 18 July 1992:- Jang said: Altaf Hussain planned to make Karachi as a separate state on the model of Hong Kong. The News chanted, ‘MQM planned a separate homeland’. The Muslim hymned, ‘MQM was out to dismember the country’. The Watan chimed, ‘MQM had plans for establishment of Urdu Desh’. Evening Special Karachi screamed, ‘The proof of MQM complicity in conspiring to create Jinnahpur or Urdu Desh found’. While some newspapers reported Jinnahpur out of geographic limits of Pakistan, others elected to create it within the territorial frontiers of Pakistan. No newspaper said that a map of Jinnahpur was presented.    

A rejoinder/clarification was jointly prepared by me, Lt Col Arshad Alwi, PRO Lt Col (now retired Brig) Saulat Raza, ex Director ISPR Brig ® T.M. Siddiqui and got formally approved from the VCGS, CGS as well as the A/DG ISPR Brig Iqbal. The same was not cleared from the Corps Commander 5 Corps since he had left for Rawalpindi to attend funeral of Lt Gen Burki on 19th morning. The rejoinder was handed over to the PRO Maj Chishti (now retired Lt Col) on AN 18 July 1992 for publication in the newspapers.  However, to my utter surprise I found that the same had not been published in the following day’s newspapers since Gen Naseer Akhtar forbade Maj Chishti to do so. 

When Chishti informed Gen Naseer on the evening of 18 July that the clarification was being given to the Press after getting necessary clearance from the VCGS, CGS and ISPR, he retorted back angrily that he had obtained the blessing of the COAS and that whatever already published in the newspaper on Jinnahpur would stay in the same form. He warned him that many heads would roll if any kind of clarification was published in the Press. 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 much to the annoyance and chagrin of many.

Since I was to return to Rawalpindi 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. The Press was at liberty to fabricate the story in true yellow journalistic spirit and kept on playing with it without a breather.

PPP leading the opposition in collusion with a section of media exploited the issue to the hilt. From 18 July 1992 onward, yellow journalism kicked up unwarranted polemics by design. The insinuations did not stop there but proposed a toast to the army which was full of muck and moist for the army image as it suggested an unholy alliance between the vested interests and the Army. The Press guns remained trained on me and my name lugged into the gunk. Absence of clarification ostensibly was being regarded, quite contrary to the truth, that whatever the tabloids had printed was correct.

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 Urdu Desh/Jinnahpur during the 20 July 1992 Corps Commander Conference at Rawalpindi. In actuality, he had showed the said map to the then PM Nawaz Sharif and President Ghulam Ishaq Khan during their visit to GHQ on 20 July for their information since the two were upset over the publication of news item of 18 July and did not want this issue to come to light. Political will of the leadership had by then sapped as was evident from the meeting of Nawaz Sharif with Altaf Hussain in London who was in self-exile. 

 

The Jang Lahore newspaper carried a news item along with a map of Jinnahpur on 11 October 1992. It said documentary evidence in the form of Jinnahpur plan hatched by the MQM, comprising Karachi, Hyderabad, Thatta, Badin and areas of upper Sindh, had been presented to the government by the army.

The Opposition pressed for a debate on Jinnahpur. Dawn of 15 October 1992 reported about two separate adjournment motions moved by the PDA and Jamaat-e-Islami to discuss the conspiracy. Chaudhri Nisar Ali stated on 17 October that Jinnahpur plot did not exist. ANP leader Ajmal Khattak also reiterated that there was no truth that MQM planned to create Jinnahpur state.  

The print media remained ablaze with Jinnahpur controversy especially after members of National Assembly went berserk on 18 October 1992 and indulged in obnoxious altercation flouting the norms of the sacred House. The promethean fire for the Press countenance had been borrowed from the misdemeanor of Opposition members and certain members of Treasury in the House. The fiery exchange of words were got expunged by the Speaker of the Assembly.

The News of 19 October 1992 reported that the Opposition leader late Benazir raised the newspaper clippings of 18 July and said as to why no action had so far been taken on Jinnahpur after the conspiracy had been revealed by Brig Asif Haroon and why the government was covering it up unless it was party to the plot.  The then interior minister Chaudhri Shujaat had to take cover behind my lone rejoinder published in Pakistan Observer on 19 July 1992 saying it had been rebutted. He added that Jinnahpur conspiracy was a figment of imagination of PDA. Farooq Leghari refuted it and sought inquest by high powered commission. (Dawn - October 21, 1992). Asif Zardari too demanded action against plotters of Jinnahpur. 

Now that the heat came directly on the army, the ISPR issued an abrupt denial on 19 October rather than the already published clarification (Observer Lahore, 19 July 1992), as a consequence to the Jang news item. 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. I was vilified for being the brainchild behind the creation of MQM Haqiqui, torture cells and the Jinnahpur map. Ever since, this issue keeps cropping up in the newspapers.

Dr. Imran Farooq, a self-exiled leader of the MQM, addressed an open letter to Gen Pervez Musharraf on 6 November 1999. He was asked to investigate the shameless allegation made by Brig Asif Haroon in his Press briefing in Karachi in 1992 that the MQM was involved in creating Jinnahpur (Separate State). I was accused of inviting a team of handpicked journalists from Punjab to Karachi and presenting a self-made map of Jinnahpur to them. I was also accused of having this news item published in all the national newspapers and that the fake and self-made map of Jinnahpur was provided to the newspapers for publication.

In his book titled “Establishment Ki Seh Jehti Hikmat Amli’, June 2000, the MQM Party leader Altaf Hussain accused me of fabricating Jinnahpur conspiracy and making a false Jinnahpur map at the behest of GHQ. The MQM Head Office opened a web site on my name to implicate me on the above stated aspects. A video clip of Altaf Hussain address in London shows him waving a poster asserting that I had fabricated the Jinnahpur map.  He mentioned my name in almost every telephonic address he made from London or any interview he gave to a visiting journalist from Pakistan. Last interview was given to Najam Sethi in July which was telecast on Dunya channel. In his telephonic address on August 24, 2009, he again mentioned my name. 

As regards my sources of reply to the question on Jinnahpur, it was based on information I gathered from GOC 18 Division Maj Gen Lehrasab Khan who later became Corps Commander 5 Corps in 1994. During my visit to Hyderabad on 24 June 1992 for my Press briefing he informed me that law enforcing agencies had recovered Jinnahpur maps with some documents in a raid on unit office of MQM at Kotri. He looked visibly disturbed while giving me the news. I procured a copy of this map and related documents from HQ 5 Corps on the afternoon of 18 July 1992, that is, a day after Maj Gen Salim Malik’s Press briefing for my record on advice of Maj Gen Jamshed Malik. The sponsor of the map was Faruqul Hassan Jillani, an MQM unit office in-charge at Kotri.

‘Jinnahpur’ phoenix kept raging in the newspapers for quite sometime. Late Benazir Bhutto mentioned it several times including seminar on Sindh in early July 1992. MQM Haqiqi leader Aamir Khan, in his Press conference published in Weekly Taqbeer 2 July 1992 and his interview published in Akhbar-e-Jahan Afaq Ahmed stated that reason for his group to part with Altaf group was that they had plans to divide Sindh and disintegrate Pakistan. Jinnahpur maps had been displayed in Hyderabad in past also.

I explained the whole episode to the then COAS through a detailed minute sheet. I also attached newspaper clippings of 18 July 1992 to highlight the visible slant in their reporting. I mentioned that the matter was grossly sensationalized; I was not given a chance to render a rejoinder to the mis-reported news item; it was purposely allowed to stay as it was and to fester and create foul odor. I strongly recommended that a comprehensive clarification must be issued so that the future exploitation of the issue is deterred for good. However, the then CGS Lt Gen Farrakh Khan did not agree with my contention saying that the (ill-conceived) denial by the ISPR was good enough. The COAS concurred to his suggestion. I again raised this issue with Gen Jahangir Karamat and later apprised my course mate VCOAS Gen Muhammad Yusaf. My last letter on the subject was addressed to Gen Pervez Musharraf dated 7 April 2001. None bothered to reply me. Gen Musharraf distanced himself from me and denied me job throughout his stay in power. I was hounded out of MQM dominated KRL where I was employed as Director Education. Jinnahpur controversy had also come in my way of promotion.

17 years have lapsed but the controversy has not died down. It was intentionally kept alive by Altaf Hussain and other MQM leaders. While the Army was absolved by the MQM, I was made the target of MQM. The 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 stating that MQM was all set to create a separate state of Jinnahpur. Taking full advantage of the 19 October ISPR denial, MQM leaders have continuously shed tears of innocence and held me responsible for branding them as traitors. A perception was created that downfall of MQM Altaf Group on 19 June was masterminded by me. MQM went to the extent of spreading news that MQM Haqiqi was sponsored by me and I had invented torture cells in Karachi to defame the party. I was put on the hit list of MQM.

Debate on Jinnahpur controversy and some other dead issues was suddenly triggered by Brig ® Imtiaz having a notorious past with certain defined political motives. He claimed that there was no truth in Jinnahpur map and it was a mere drama to defame MQM. Lt Gen ® Naseer Akhtar claimed on Aaj TV on 23 August 2009 that he knew nothing about Jinnahpur map. Lt Gen ® Asad Durrani who was serving as IGT&E in GHQ in 1992 reiterated his stance. Their contention is not based on truth since other than my source; three senior army officers and one major have now disclosed that maps had been discovered from MQM unit offices in Karachi and Nine Zero.

Based on the certificates of not guilty issued by Brig Imtiaz and Lt Gen Naseer, Altaf Hussain made a telephonic address to the emotion packed gathering of his followers on 24 August 2009. He shed copious tears asserting that their innocence has finally been proven but at the cost of extreme rigors and loss of over 15000 innocent workers of MQM.  He and other MQM leaders took a new stance that presentation of fabricated map and describing MQM as anti-state became the basis of Operation Cleanup in urban Sindh. They forgot that while the operation commenced on 19 June 1992, controversy of Jinnahpur map cropped up on 18 July. On the stance taken by PML-N that Operation Cleanup in urban Sindh had been initiated by the Army without taking Nawaz Sharif into confidence, Altaf Hussain countered as to why he did not stop the operation which resulted in killing of over 15000 activists of MQM at the hands of security forces. The bogus claim was made as an afterthought to portray MQM victim of oppression, to malign PML-N leadership and gain sympathy of people of Pakistan.

In their bid to clear the party of the charge of Jinnahpur, they appear to have inadvertently landed in more trouble. Maj retired Nadeem Dar revealed on Geo Talk Show of Hamid Mir on 24 August 2009 that he was serving in Rangers in Karachi in 1992 and had raided MQM Headquarters Nine Zero and recovered over 1000 copies of Jinnahpur map and dubbed Lt Gen Naseer a liar and  corrupt and Brig Naseer as ill-reputed. Maj Gen retired Safdar Ali Khan; former DG Rangers disclosed on Geo TV on 30 August that it is a fact that thousands of Jinnahpur maps had been recovered from MQM offices in 1992 operation. He added that Pakistan flag had been burned in Hyderabad in 1987 by MQM activists during the public address of Altaf Hussain. Lt Gen ® Amjad Shouab, whose troops had taken part in Operation Cleanup, reiterated that he was in knowledge that Jinnahpur maps had been recovered in Karachi in 1992. Brig ® Saulat Raza, ex ISPR confirmed in a talk show on Geo TV on 31 August that maps, flags and documents were recovered form an MQM unit office in Karachi on 19 June 1992.

Nusrat Mirza, a journalist by profession, who was heading Mahajir Rabata Committee in early 1990s, revealed in Geo TV talk show on 3 September, t hat formation of Jinnahpur state was a tactical plan of MQM. He said that Altaf Hussain had announced in a meeting in his presence that if operation was launched against MQM, they would seek outside assistance. He confirmed existence of torture cells. MQM senior leader Haider Abbas Rizvi was part of the talk show.     

Besides Jinnahpur, several other old cases have been brought to fore to muddy the political climate. Saner elements saw through a motivated game plan with certain ulterior motives. Real issues were sidelined and dead issues dug up and air given to non-issues. PML-N felt it was a PPP-MQM conspiracy masterminded by Presidency to pull down rapidly rising popularity of PML-N, scuttle move of PML-N to put Gen Musharraf on trial, thwart minus one formula, put judiciary on the defensive while dealing with 12 May 2007 bloodbath in Karachi, divert attention of masses from their incompetence, mega corruption scandals and to smokescreen the arrival of US Marines and Blackwater elements.  Others feel it was an attempt to foil efforts of judiciary to open up 12 May 2007 cases.

Whatever the significance of said map, the fact of the matter is that it made no impact on the political standing of MQM. Maps have never been made into an issue by any ruling regime or the Army. MQM has remained in power in coalition with both PML-N and PPP both in Sindh and in the centre in all the successive governments. It is in good books of USA and UK and is now all set to turn into a national party and hopes that by 2015 it will become the leading party. But for May 2007 debacle, MQM would have captured few seats from Punjab in 2008 elections. It has already made political inroads in AJK and Gilgit-Baltistan. Altaf Hussain besides raising his voice against Jagirdars, dynastic politics and decayed feudal system of governance has also expressed his support for the cause of Kashmiris saying that the issue must be resolved at the earliest. He has however yet to define the terms on which he seeks a solution.

 

The writer is a retired Brig and a defence and political analyst. Email: asifharoon7751@yahoo.com

 Reply:   very true
Replied by(drkjke) Replied on (7/Jan/2010)

Just like U.S. made an excuse that they were being defeated because there were Mujahideen in Northern areas of Pakistan who kept on crossing borders, similarly Pakistan Army made an excuse that they were fighting Indian and American agents. And surprisingly Pakistani nation accepted it. It is funny because U.S. is paying Pakistan Army billions of dollars to fight so called "War on Terror" against American and Indian agents ??? It doesn't make sense to a sound mind. Also, when India asked for proof after verbal propaganda by Pakistan government and army, Pakistan government said that it will show "evidence" of Indian infiltration in TTP ranks at appropriate time. As a matter of fact, there is no evidence or proof what so ever. It's a lie and complete lie and they can not show something that do not exist.

 
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