By Sajjad Shaukat
Scholars of international affairs agree that foreign affairs are too foreign to the citizens of a country. A renowned scholar, Prof. Hoslti opines that “issues and situations” have “influence on public opinion, which in turn influences the objectives and actions. Judging in these terms, Pakistan is facing a number of challenges of grave nature, while Pakistan’s security agencies, especially armed forces and country’s superior intelligence agency, ISI have continuously been coping with a continued wave of suicide attacks coupled with intermittent battles with the militants in some tribal areas. In this context, more than five thousands military soldiers and a number of personnel of ISI have become martyrs in maintaining the integrity of the country.
But it is most regrettable that some political leaders and their affiliated media anchors, particularly Hamid Mir and Najam Sethi pick up some issue and leave no stone unturned in disreputing Pak Army and ISI.
In this regard, Pakistan Peoples Party’s top leaders, without naming army or ISI, have presumed that there is a plot against their government through the memogate issue, while our media anchors have been propagating that a rift has occurred between the civil and military leadership. In this connection, after meeting with Chief of Army Staff Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani on December16 this year, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani categorically rejected rumours that there was a rift between the government and army over the memogate issue. But despite rejection of these rumours, on December 19, both Prime Minister Gilani and Opposition Leader of the Pakistan Muslim League (N) Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan stated that it was a day of assurances in the National Assembly that neither any undemocratic setup nor martial law would be accepted in the country. On the same day, Chief of the PML (N), Nawaz Sharif also presumed, saying that if army took over now, the situation would further deteriorate in the country.
While Gen. Kayani and ISI Chief Ahmed Shuja Pasha considering the memo as a conspiracy against the army and national security, have left it to the Supreme Court to decide the case. But prior to the verdict of the Court and without knowing reality behind the memogate issue, on December 15, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan and ANP parliamentarian Bushra Gohar demanded for resignation of the ISI director general over his alleged plot to oust the PPP government as alleged by Mansoor Ijaz. On December 21, ISPR Spokesman Maj-Gen. Athar Abbas rejected this baseless report, portrayed in British paper, The Independent on December 13.
In fact, either it is memogate case or any other issue, some Pakistan’s political parties disrepute country’s key security intuitions so as to increase their vote bank. In this respect, leader of the PML (N), Nawaz Sharif, Chairman of Tehreek-e-Insaf Imran Khan and leaders of Jamat-i-Islami have repeatedly been criticising the Pak Army and ISI.
In this connection, while addressing a public gathering in Faisalabad on November 2, Nawaz Sharif has reiterated, “the army and intelligence agencies could not be allowed to play any political role…the present regime wanted to put Pakistan’s army under the US control.” Without naming ISI, he said, “We have evidence that secret agencies are supporting a certain political party.
In the last few years, failed in their misadventure, US top officials and their media have perennially been blaming Pak army and ISI in supporting the Afghan Taliban. In the recent past, US Admiral Mike Mullen (R) accused that the Haqqani network is waging a ‘proxy war’ in Afghanistan with the assistance of ISI. Some Indian rulers and puppet regime of Karzai in Afghanistan also expressed similar views.
As part of the foreign conspiracy, Pakistan has become special target of the internal and external threats, facing multi-faceted crises created by the United States, India and Israel through their secret agencies, CIA, RAW and Mossad which are in connivance to destabilize Pakistan as it is the only ‘nuclearsied’ country in the Islamic World. In this respect, these agencies have been sending well-trained agents and militants in Pakistan, who commit various subversive acts in the country.
However, fault can not be found in country’s general masses who are mostly illiterate. So, it is our misfortune that the high officials of the US-led some countries and their media have created a hostile phenomenon in the country by inciting the general masses against the security forces and its secret agency, ISI through ‘stereotypes.’ Regrettably, Pakistan’s common men who are swayed by the prejudices created by the political leaders who have kept on manipulating any crisis for their own self-interests—have now started tarnishing the image of country’s security agencies so as to gain their sympathies with the sole aim to increase their voting lists.
Notably, when Taliban occupied Swat, Dir and Buner including other adjoining areas, continuing their criminal activities like kidnappings, beheadings, hostage-takings for ransom etc., Nawaz Sharif, Imran Khan and leaders of Jamat-i-Islami became silent. But all the self-concocted stories of Pakistan’s external and internal propagandists proved untrue when Pakistan’s armed forces had broken the backbone of the Taliban militants in the related-regions and South Waziristan. But by ignoring the sacrifices of Pak Army and ISI, these hostile elements were misguiding the general masses by propagating that security forces were killing innocent civilians instead of real militants. They also criticized the army under the pretext of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).
It is due to a wave of ‘emotionalism’ instigated by some irresponsible politicians and media anchors that general masses have forgotten the services of our security forces. In this context, following the lines of the foreign enemies, our own politicians and media have been misguiding the people, setting aside innumerable services of the Pakistan Army during floods, desilting of canals (Bhal Safai)—particularly during the Earthquake of 2005, entailing restoration of law and order on many occasions, resettlement of the IDPs and so on. Since its existence, military personnel saved the countless helpless people by sacrificing their own lives.
Nawaz Sharif must remember that during his regime, WAPDA was going to be bankrupted, and he himself had invited the army to manage its affairs. By collecting the electricity bills impartially, even from the influential persons, army’s personnel had saved WAPDA from bankruptcy.
While, thwarting the subversive acts through pre-arrests of the militants, ISI have captured a number of renowned commanders of the terrorists and foreign agents. Despite its limited resources as compared to CIA, RAW and Mossad, it is owing to the services of ISI that it also provided pre-information about the external elements which have been conspiring against the integrity of Pakistan.
These internal political elements also misperceived that under the pressure of the US, Pak Army will launch military operation against the Haqqani network in North Waziristan. Quite contrarily, Pakistan’s civil and military leadership flatly refused military operation in North Waziristan as remarked by ISI Chief Lt. Gen. Pasha in the All Parties Conference on September 29. Besides, in response to deliberate air strikes by the US-led NATO forces on army outposts on November 26, which killed 24 soldiers in the in Mohmand Agency, in consultation with armed forces, Pakistan’s civil leadership took bold steps like suspension of NATO supply, vacation Shamsi airbase and boycott of the second Bonn Conference.
It is notable that it is due to the lack of pre-conditions for the success of democracy like education, eternal vigilance and political consciousness among general masses that they become an easy prey to shrewd politicians who use them for their own self-interests.
Past experience shows that democracy which has proved to be a success in the west has been a failure in Pakistan. In this regard, we cannot blame the system of democracy itself, because “any instrument can be misused.” And wastage of time in retaliation, hostility for the sake of hostility, alliances and counter-alliances to change the government are characteristics of our politicians.
Being a professional soldier, Gen. Kiyani clearly pointed out on March 6, 2008, “The army would stay out of the political process.” He is still following the principle of non-interference in politics.
So, it is advised to our political rulers and other opposition leaders that instead of disreputing the key institutions like Pak Army and ISI to increase their vote bank, they must better emphasize strong unity among security forces, all politicians and public in order to cope with multiple crises of Pakistan. This is also the best way to castigate the sinister designs of the foreign enemies.
Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations