Last week’s revelations via whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks presented the already well-known parameters that hemmed in Mr Khan and created a nexus with the government. What had not been seen before was the intensity of US opinion on Mr Khan, the extent of its intelligence on his activities here and the conveying of this to Washington.
What is illuminating and compelling for the Guyanese public is the stark assessment of Mr Khan and the narcotics situation here through an outsider, shorn of the ingrained conflicts of the ordinary Guyanese man/woman. It further substantiates what many Guyanese have felt about this drug lord. From that perspective there is no doubt that Mr Khan controlled the drug trafficking trade with a ruthless and violent efficiency, bought off many people and orchestrated and manipulated events here.
So the government can choose to shelter behind the semantics of not recognizing WikiLeaks as a credible source of information – that attitude itself betrays no interest in trying to get to the bottom of Mr Khan’s grip – or it can make an attempt to come clean.
There are irreducible truths that the government as custodian of the state has to acknowledge and consider as they can be injurious to the state. Failure to acknowledge this places the state at risk of being considered as approaching a narco state with all of the attendant problems such an appellation brings.
Mr Khan’s plea of guilty in a US courtroom conclusively established that he was indeed the leader of a pernicious drug trafficking organization in Guyana for many years with deep tentacles in the security forces.
If this is accepted by all as is generally the case, it begs the question of what state functionaries knew about his activities here and when.
Mr Khan’s meteoric rise in the narcotics industry came completely within the tenure of President Jagdeo. A President who holds himself out to be all knowing and in touch with everything that is going on in his country cannot easily plead to have been unaware of Mr Khan’s activities.
A President who is the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces and exerts himself over the security and intelligence apparatus of the country cannot easily make it seem that he is ignorant of a dangerous threat to the state from a man who operated so ostentatiously.
A President who presents himself as knowledgeable of the happenings of 2002-6 cannot easily deny that the events of that period do not present an unmistakable pattern of a drug lord at work and in command of eavesdropping, eliminating rivals and suspected criminals while continuing his nefarious trade.
Neither can the President simply shrug off the evident enrichment of Mr Khan and his expansive business interests without the security agencies and supposed anti-money laundering agency seriously questioning the basis for his wealth.
Given these failures and their compromising of the state, in other countries, the President or leader of government would have felt it necessary to tender his resignation. This is evidently a tradition that neither President Jagdeo nor his ministers are familiar with.
With general elections just months away, President Jagdeo may not venture to present a cogent defence and explanation as to why he and his government incredulously didn’t know about Mr Khan and acted decisively against him. It will however be a question that they will face informally at the elections and in the future in some capacity or the other.
Particularly if it is borne out and evidence is presented that not only was Mr Khan a drug trafficker but that he also embarked on the business of constructing a murder squad with deep connections to an official of the PPP/C government.
The early evidence of this was Mr Khan’s interception at Good Hope in 2002 with a cache of weapons and electronic monitoring equipment which lent credence to reports that he was hunting suspected criminals.
His easy escape from justice over this incident and the fact that he was able to continue his business uninterrupted either demonstrates the grossest incompetence by the government and security forces in addressing a threat posed by a man with dangerous capacities or that sections of the government were in cahoots with him. There can be no other interpretation of it and this is what President Jagdeo and his government will not be able to easily overcome.
It is impossible at this stage to determine or postulate what Mr Khan sitting in his cell in New York believes he was doing on behalf of the state and who should be beholden to him and for what. It is impossible to determine if in his legal dilemma he felt abandoned and decided to strike a deal with Washington to tell all he knew about that period and his involvement with any actors on behalf of the state. Those are the risks that were likely posed by the engaging of Mr Khan in his varied capacities by actors on behalf of the state. Guyanese who feel that the government needs to explain its blind spot for Mr Khan will wait to see if those risks mature.