Civil-military initiative: Army chief invites lawmakers to visit Waziristan

Published: October 25, 2012
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Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and Air Chief Marshal Tahir Rafique Butt look towards the sky as they witness the aerobatics of Sherdil formation at the PAF Academy in Risalpur. PHOTO: PPI

Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and Air Chief Marshal Tahir Rafique Butt look towards the sky as they witness the aerobatics of Sherdil formation at the PAF Academy in Risalpur. PHOTO: PPI

ISLAMABAD: 

Amidst a heightened sense of urgency surrounding Waziristan in recent days, a parliamentary panel will travel to the region – the first visit by an official political delegation to the restive, militancy-hit tribal area.

The Senate Standing Committee on Defence will make the trip next month to visit thousands of troops stationed in an area described as the ‘frontline against extremism,’ and comes on the invitation of army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.

The invitation comes on the heels of a heated political debate on whether the military should undertake another offensive in militancy-hit areas – particularly North Waziristan. While the government has insisted that an operation, if any, would be a joint decision between the military and the civilian administration, the army has said that it would be the call of the government. The opposition has opposed another military offensive, questioning the efficacy of another blitz.

The committee, headed by Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed, was invited by Gen. Kayani when he met members in Risalpur following a passing-out parade of Pakistan Air Force (PAF). According to an official handout, the committee chairman accepted the invitation and decided to visit troops at the front line in November.

Since Pakistan sent tens of thousands of troops to the tribal areas to flush out militants, non-locals and independent media have very limited access there.

Last month, cricketer-turned politician Imran Khan led a ‘peace march’ to South Waziristan by his party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and foreign peace activists, but authorities stopped him from entering the troubled area, citing security concerns. The visit by the Senate committee will be the first time the military allows a group of parliamentarians to visit the area.

That was not the only good news for civil-military cooperation. It was also decided that the committee would visit the General Headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi to get a briefing from top military authorities on important security issues facing the country. Senator Sayed said that, as part of their work plan, which started with a visit to the Naval Headquarters, the committee will visit the Air Headquarters in November and then the GHQ in December this year.

The chairman is said to have assured Gen. Kayani that the committee would act as a bridge between the army and other quarters. “The committee would also be the first line of Defence to protect and promote the professional role of the armed forces as an institution,” he told the army chief.

Meanwhile, addressing the PAF graduation ceremony at Rasalpur, Gen. Kayani said close coordination and cooperation between the armed forces is the key to success for the country’s defence. “In today’s warfare, joint-ness is the key to success. Joint exercises like PAF’s High Mark and Pak Army’s Command level exercises Azm-e-Nau, have helped us a great deal to synergise the efforts of Pakistan Army and Pakistan Air Force,” he said.

Kayani paid tribute to the PAF, saying that it had procured latest generation fighter aircraft and force multipliers to enhance its defensive as well as offensive capabilities. “This will require you to be fully abreast of the advancements in the field of aviation technology,” he told the young gradates. The ceremony was followed by an exhilarating aerial display by the PAF Academy Aerobatics team ‘Sher-dils’ and para-glider formation ‘The Eaglets.’

(Read: On the North Waziristan operation)

Published in The Express Tribune, October 25th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (19)

  • Awais
    Oct 25, 2012 - 4:13AM

    A decent step. Its a shame that its the first time for any “federal” delegation to visit this “federal” administered tribal area.

    We need to have more of such events..

    Recommend

  • Nadir
    Oct 25, 2012 - 4:39AM

    Waa jee! Parlimentarians to visit two no-go areas for civilians, Waziristan and GHQ. Perhaps also pay a visit to the people of Waziristan and ask what they want, rather than being helicoptered in, photographed all smiles, and then leave, heaping praise on the army and then claiming that they know what the people of the area want.

    P.S. While at GHQ perhaps also ask why smoking is allowed indoors since Gen K became COAS in violation of the law. After all the law is supreme right or is GHQ beyond the realm of the law?

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  • AnisAqeel
    Oct 25, 2012 - 6:01AM

    What a progress military is showing, now Waziristan can be visited by appointment or by invitation only. Very civilized way to visit your own homeland!

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  • Jangloos
    Oct 25, 2012 - 7:01AM

    Well the parliamentarians should visit the places where our soldiers are fighting to give a morale boost!!

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  • Khawar
    Oct 25, 2012 - 7:02AM

    Looks like they are helplessly watching CIA drones in the sky.

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  • AJ
    Oct 25, 2012 - 8:26AM

    When it comes to democratically elected government representing peoples aspiration, the military elite is quick to throw them in the name of national interest. However, when it comes to terrorist and criminal how have taken over parts of our country with local population as hostage, murdering inoccent over 40,000 so far the military is looking to politians and national concensus to eliminate the real threat to our people and this nation. What is wrong with this picture?

    Recommend

  • Oct 25, 2012 - 8:38AM

    @Jangloos:
    @AnisAqeel:
    With an armed insurrection going on against the state of Pakistan, who has the courage to go there? None of our politicians has ever gone to visit the FATA areas even before the fighting and drone attacks started.
    If they had, so much love for the defense of the country as they claim to, they would have picked up arms and joined our soldiers. Then would we have the need for an army???
    Frankly speaking, if the army invites them, it shows that the army has assured them of ironclad security and only after that, a delegation is going. Frankly speaking, what will happen if a drone should fly low over the heads of the delegation?
    Salams

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  • Voice of Gilgit
    Oct 25, 2012 - 9:20AM

    No answer to the drone attacks,,,, brove Pak Army?

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  • Fahad Shaikh
    Oct 25, 2012 - 9:33AM

    so…now they are following the foot-steps of PTI’s Chairman Imran Khan….
    Every time, whatever he says becomes an idea…. – whose time comes… Cheap Pakistani politicians will never understand his vision and even they does… they wont accept him… However, Thank God… IK is there to raise voice.

    Recommend

  • Rana
    Oct 25, 2012 - 9:36AM

    Pak Army, only certified political party that has fully decorated leaders! Now they have invited their sub-contractors to visit NW.Recommend

  • Jibran
    Oct 25, 2012 - 10:22AM

    What’s the goal? To show that everything is in control, and nothing is needed? Or it is really dangerous out there and something needs to be done?

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  • arindom
    Oct 25, 2012 - 10:52AM

    Nice medals. How much theyre worth?

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  • sabi
    Oct 25, 2012 - 11:10AM

    Why is it that civilion govt needs permission from army to visit waziristan.Is army too tough or civilion too weak or neive.-Who want what- is the type of situation.No clarity at all.

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  • JAM
    Oct 25, 2012 - 12:15PM

    i wish drone strike kill all those parliamentarians who are helpless in stopping drone attacks..

    Recommend

  • Zeux
    Oct 25, 2012 - 1:39PM

    @arindom:
    Your life.

    Recommend

  • Polpot
    Oct 25, 2012 - 1:42PM

    The visiting delegation can use the bullet proof buses being ordered by the Pakistani Cricket Board.
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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  • Sultan
    Oct 25, 2012 - 2:42PM

    Look, even the army and the lawmakers are following Imran’s lead. In addition to stirring the political pot in Pakistan in waking up lazy politicians ossified into a staus quo, he has single handedly put sense within the ranks of the army and the lawmakers aka government. Traits of a true leader!

    Recommend

  • Fida Ahmed Advocate
    Oct 25, 2012 - 4:57PM

    @Awais:
    Well said Awais! Will these shame proof feel any shame, has to be seen.

    Recommend

  • Oct 25, 2012 - 5:11PM

    I wish the President, being the supreme commander of armed forces, visit FATA if the government wants to work out a viable policy for militancy hit areas.

    Recommend

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