Brig Asif Haroon Raja
It is an established fact that as long as the military ruled the country singly it produced excellent results. Seized by a desire to gain legitimacy and to become democratic, the moment it brought in discarded and disgruntled politicians and made them run the facade of democracy, things went haywire.
Gen Ashfaq Pervez Kayani is under criticism for not taking action against the most corrupt and inefficient political government bent upon destroying the country. His critics have gone to the extent of saying that lollypop of 3-year extension has silenced him. It must not be forgotten that whenever the Army general stepped in, the overall situation was always chaotic and people were fed up of politicians. Opposition parties kept nudging GHQ to save the country from ruination. Each time a man on horseback took over the reins of power; he was hailed as a savior. Happy tidings of the military rule, however, never lasted for more than 2-3 years after which the tide got rough and once again people clamored for return of democracy. This see-saw is still going on but the Army seems to have learnt its lesson this time.
It is an established fact that as long as the military ruled the country singly it produced excellent results. Seized by a desire to gain legitimacy and to become democratic, the moment it brought in discarded and disgruntled politicians and made them run the facade of democracy, things went haywire. The deadly military-civilian combine always ended up in tarnishing the reputation of Army and the death of military rule. All military rulers irrespective of their good performance left the scene as discredited rulers. Fate of democratic leaders was no less pathetic. This cycle has gone on since 1958 and so far military has ruled the country four times totaling about 33 years. Making a dispassionate comparison, even the worst critics of Army would grudgingly agree that Army rulers had at least kept things in order. They were surely superior in governance and management and had taken GDP to 7% as against 2-3% GDP and rampant chaos during civilian rules.
It was wishfully hoped that after the fall of Gen Musharraf and takeover by the coalition government of PPP-PML-N tied to charter of democracy, the established practice of seeking a change for the sake of change would end. However, after seeing the true face of Zardari-Gilani led democratic regime, the people are once again vying for a change and are looking towards the Army since it is not within the capacity of another political party to bring a healthy a change. People who had celebrated the ouster of hated Gen Musharraf are now often heard saying that his rule was much better than the current democratic rule which is an insult to democracy. Notwithstanding their wish, Gen Kayani and his team of Generals also know that their infatuation towards the Army would be temporary. Within six months the dice would get loaded against he Army and all the ills placed at its doorsteps. This genuine apprehension is keeping Gen Kayani restrained.
Apart from few disgruntled superceded officers, all ranks have full faith in leadership of Gen Kayani who has done a lot for the welfare of lower ranks and is devoting lot of attention towards development works in FATA and Balochistan to win their hearts and minds. He monitors the ongoing war on terror from the front and the credit for turning the tide in favor of Army goes to him. Not only he has kept the Army away from civil affairs, he has shown respect to the elected government and has shunned all surreptitious moves made by self-seeking groups to derail democracy since he wants the people and political forces to decide what is good for them and the country.
Besides self-centered groups inside Pakistan desiring the Army to show door to the PPP government, outside powers are equally interested. It is now an established fact that US-UK combine brokered peace between Gen Musharraf and Benazir, got infamous NRO issued and paved the way for most corrupt, and thoroughly incompetent regime to rule the roost. The rulers are serving US agenda and are least pushed about Pakistan’s national interests and whether it survives or breaks up into quasi states as is again being drummed up by foreign media. The ruling class and their rich companions have amassed so much ill-gotten wealth that they can live lord’s life abroad. That is why they are least concerned about dismal politico-economic situation, America’s bellicosity and its dangerous designs against Pakistan, India’s military buildup and its efforts to dry up Pakistan by building over 62 dams on rivers doesn’t bother them.
Notwithstanding their subservience to Washington’s diktats, it has become disconcerting for the US to find all-powerful President Zardari unable to fulfill its core objectives because of military’s obstruction. It is upsetting for USA to find that when its darling Musharraf was at the helm of affairs and was performing in accordance with its wishes, he didn’t have a strong political government to support him to meddle into sensitive issues. Now that a popularly elected government is in power, Gen Kayani is not prepared to play the game. It would have been ideal for USA if Gen Kayani and Lt Gen Pasha were on the same page. In utter confusion, the US assaults the government and Army in rotation and at times simultaneously.
In desperation, Indo-US-Israeli nexus is now trying to create conditions for military takeover since with reins of power in the hands of Army it becomes that much easier for them to foment agitation and force the military to use force against protestors and thus prepare grounds to exploit human rights violations and subsequently justify war to dismember Pakistan. None will come to the rescue of Pakistan under military rule or shed tears on its dismemberment. Ongoing media war portraying the democratic government in poor light and egging on the military to step in is governed by this hidden motive.
Given the deteriorating state of affairs of the country when everything is in shambles, takeover by the Army will certainly be welcomed but the euphoria will subside all too soon and Kayani will be scoffed at. It will give justification to the ousted regime to project itself as a victim. Same old music will be played that the Army never allows democracy to flourish and axes it when it starts maturing. All the sins of politicians will be forgotten and the entire blame put on the Army in accordance with the past practice. Kayani is neither ambitious nor he has shown any inclination to overstep his authority vested in him. Even when he is showing deference to the civil government and is carrying out the instructions of the president and chief executive dutifully, the Army is still criticized for being domineering. This perception has been built by the cynics in the backdrop of Kayani taking up a principled stand on certain matters and showing the grimmer side of the picture.
He had prevailed upon PM Gilani to rescind his order of placing ISI under Ministry of Interior in August 2008 which if implemented would have been catastrophic. He had advised the top leadership not to send DGISI to New Delhi in the aftermath of 26/11 when India was in a highly belligerent mood. He had explained the gravity of the situation in the backdrop of cavalcade of long march in March 2009 which had reached Gujranwala and had advised the President that it will be in fitness of things if judges were restored and governor rule in Punjab terminated. His sane advice was heeded to and crisis averted.
He did express his deep reservations over certain clauses of Kerry Lugar Bill (KLB) which impinged upon security of Pakistan. Basic purpose of KLB was to wash away misgivings and grievances of Pakistan against USA and to build trust and promote better understanding between two countries. It was to act as a harbinger for sustainable Pak-US relations. It backfired and bred more suspicion and resentment since it was widely perceived as an instrument with which USA planned to deprive us of our dignity and sovereignty.
The bill was based on the presumption that Pakistan was guilty of terrorism, nuclear proliferation and that continuation of aid money would be dependent upon its performance. Pakistan was directed to stop nuclear proliferation and procurement of fissile material; cease support to terrorists and stop cross border terrorism and to allow drone attacks in Quetta. KLB sought direct access to all Pak nationals associated with nuclear proliferation or acquisition of nuclear materials for our nuclear program. Civil government was asked to exercise tight control over military budgets as well as on chain of command including promotions and appointments of senior officers. Expansion of US Embassy in Islamabad and facilitation of large number of CIA agents disguised as coordinators and project managers into Pakistan were dovetailed in KLB package.
It is an open secret that our Ambassador in Washington Hussein Haqqani was instrumental in adding certain anti-Army clauses since he carried a grudge against the Army. He is widely seen more as a spokesman for US than of Pakistan. All PPP leaders were distressed when objections were raised and repeatedly said that there was nothing wrong in the bill. Genuine reservations expressed by Kayani were taken personally by President to Washington and as a result an explanatory note was attached with the bill. This attachment was an admittance that original document was harmful but was gladly accepted by Haqqani and former foreign minister Qureshi.
Gen Kayani has been advising the government not to cede to the pressure of USA to launch a major operation in North Waziristan since the timings for opening another front was not in Army’s favor. It was owing to his stand since early 2010 that this operation has so far not been launched. The Army and ISI had no role in the release of Raymond Davis in March 2011, yet Lt Gen Pasha is wrongly blamed. His only role was to extract maximum amount from USA for the families of murdered persons and to impose restrictions on CIA activities. From that time onwards and particularly after Abbottabad incident, these two institutions have been tirelessly working to emasculate CIA network in Pakistan. Gratuitous Stoppage of $800 million close support fund was meant to break the resistance of Army. The Army once again showed its mettle by declaring that it will continue fighting war on terror without the US aid as it had been doing in the past.
This kind of resistance put up by the Army against USA is unprecedented particularly when power is in the hands of most powerful civilian president duly remote controlled from Washington. Series of cockeyed allegations made against Gen Kayani and Lt Gen Pasha in particular and the institutions in general and media war by foreign and local media is the direct outcome of this resistance. While the Army and ISI have become eyesores for India, Israel and USA, ironically the US cannot make further headway in Afghanistan without their intimate support and hence cannot afford to get de-linked.
While the officers and men of Army are shedding their blood to safeguard the motherland, the politicians having sold their souls are bartering away national interests. Karachi, Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA are bleeding, but our rulers are more concerned about power play. They least care about our sovereignty getting bruised and Pakistan getting neo-colonized as long as Uncle Sam promises more aid and cash flows in. This contrast has been there right from inception of Pakistan.
Soldiers perform their tasks with total dedication, devotion and patriotism and do not hesitate sacrificing their lives if the situation so demands, be it internal or external threat or manmade or natural catastrophes. Such a stance is not possible if moral fiber is weak. Honor, integrity, esprit de corps, values and discipline rank high in their personal lives. These traits are drilled into their minds in PMA and regimental centers and later on further honed in regiments and training institutions. Inbuilt accountability system takes care of all cases of indiscipline, sidelining all those who show lack of morals, camaraderie, professionalism, valor and leadership qualities. Only the best rise to higher ranks.
In contrast, the politicians enter corridors of power without any grooming from an academy. Family background and wealth becomes the basis for their election. They work with fervor only when their self interest is at stake, otherwise they adopt a lackadaisical posture and are least interested in national interests. Whatever patriotic slogans they raise are meant to befool the gullible public. They loot rather than protect national kitty. Morality, values and principles are of no consequence to them. They believe in the principle of making hay as long as the sun shines. Let the people judge the worth of politicians themselves and throw them out rather than the Army performing this act and getting blamed. Those who are instigating and provoking Kayani to takeover are not his well-wishers.
Notwithstanding that the higher judiciary and Khakis stand on high moral ground in obtaining contaminated environment where evil is promoted and virtue undermined, the only crib the people have against the two institutions is that they are not asserting their authority to put fear of God in the hearts of immoral rulers, making them set things right and pressuring them to agree to bring back ill-gotten wealth stashed in Swiss banks. Huge heaps of Pakistani wealth deposited abroad if invested in own banks can address all our problems of dependence, joblessness, poverty, extremism, ethnicity and sectarianism and make Pakistan healthy and wealthy. Prosperity will automatically reduce radicalism in the society and will promote peace and harmony.
If the judiciary and Army fail to take stock of the fast dwindling situation and assert moral pressure on the government to mend its ways, they will be held equally responsible if Pakistan becomes a failed state and collapses from within because of incompetence, poor governance and widespread corruption.