In defence of General Kayani

Do not demoralise the troops by criticising the army as an institution; focus on individual culprits.

Asad Munir November 07, 2012

The army and its agencies have been playing a political role since 1958, if not before that. It has not even been five years since the last military ruler relinquished power. In the country’s 65 years of history, the army has directly ruled for more than 33 years and indirectly, maybe more. It has been formulating or influencing the making of foreign policies related to certain countries since independence. To expect that the army should now withdraw from the political scene is desirable but not practical. It is rather a wish based on idealism. To compare our army chief with those of other democratic countries is also unrealistic. Comparing the army with other institutions of the state and arguing that they chose the profession of soldiering and that they are being paid for their job may not be a very rational approach, keeping the nature of their task in view. The mere fact that General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani’s statement kept all media amply focused demonstrates that the army is still considered by all to be a major player in our politics, even if it is undesirable.

When General Kayani took command of the army, about 19 administrative units of Fata and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa were completely or partially under the control of Taliban. Now, there are two. The army is fighting the longest war in its history, in which it has lost about 5,000 soldiers and over 800 have been rendered disabled for life. It is a war not owned by many Pakistanis. No previous chief has commanded an army in such difficult times as General Kayani. No army chief has seen beheadings of his soldiers with their sacrifices not recognised by the nation. General Kayani shoulders the difficult task to motivate them, keep them committed to their goals and prevent any division in the rank and files of the army. Since 2008, many in this country have been inviting General Kayani to intervene in political affairs and get rid of this government. However, he has refused and also convinced his corps commanders that they should not do so. He is probably the first chief who has admitted that the army has committed mistakes; all other chiefs have justified army takeovers, citing different reasons. He is trying to change the course and avoid mistakes of the past, and yet no chief during his service was criticised the way General Kayani has been. The army as an institution is being blamed for acts committed by past generals. The perception that the chief is the sole decision-making authority may not be true in all cases. There are nine corps commanders having their own opinions but the chief faces the brunt of the negative onslaught by the media, also with the responsibility of responding and pacifying those under his command.

Why is the army different from other institutions that are ridiculed by the media? Soldiers do not put their lives at stake only for money; there are additional factors which motivate them to fight, such as pride, honour, ghairat, patriotism, belief in a cause, recognition, comradeship and unit cohesion, etc. High morale matters to them. Unit cohesion is the trust between leaders and the led. Creating an impression that the army has good junior officers and soldiers but that senior officers have always let them down is undermining this very basic concept. The army traditionally does not support individuals, be it the ex-army chief, which is why General (retd) Pervez Musharraf is not in the country, for which he may not be very pleased with General Kayani. To blame the institution as a whole for the wrongdoing of some individuals affects the morale of the troops.

The Afghan Taliban captured Kabul in 1996 and Islamists took control of Timbuktu in April 2012. In both cases, their armies had disintegrated. We face serious threat from the Taliban; they want to take over this country through armed jihad. The army is the institution preventing them from fulfilling their evil designs. Do not demoralise the troops by criticising the army as an institution; focus on individual culprits. God forbid, if there is a division in the army, it will lead to anarchy and consequently, no other institution of the state will survive.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 8th, 2012.


Mahmud | 10 years ago | Reply

Army is an instituition which Americans want to destroy with the help of our own public,as it is the center of Gravity of this country. Would like to opine on very few aspects to give the fact against the perception created by our Adverseries. 1. Responsibility of Nuclear controll cannot be given to Political people because once not in Govt tend to give secrets to our enemies.Army is not an individual but institution which is responsible.Even after retirement ex Army people can be called under Army act and very stern action can be taken within a very short time through Court Marshal proceedings. Infact alot of people do not know what strict actions are taken with even Generals in the Army and at times sent home without any benefits /pension. 2. The land for plots to be sold to Army is purchased outside the settled areas. Once developed its value becomes high but all the Charges alongwith development charges is given by Army people. More over criteria and service limits have been fixed and given on merit. Perhaps no corruption is made in development of these lands and completed in very short time which makes it very lucarative. Civ should also try to do on same lines and doevelop lands away from the settlements. I wish some one goes to Wana or Siachen and experience the difficulties which are unimanegible. Leaving away own loved ones behind, to make the other people feel protected seems easy in words but infact very hard practically. Think if your loved one as an Army person has lost his life or got disabled. Please dont support Americans indirectly. Army people have not come from heaven but are humans who can make mistakes. Dont blame Army but u can target the bad individual. 3. Bangla Desh was made because with didnot wanted them to rule,whose fault Army or Political people. Because of this we had to go for a war which Army didnot wanted.So many lives lost and prisioners of War, we should kow who to be blammed. Pak Army Zindabad, Pakistan Paindabad.

Manoj Joshi India | 10 years ago | Reply

@Akhter: Thanks Akhter for your feedback that was most thoughtful and I express my complete gratitude for the same.

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