There they go again, the Ghairat Brigades, so trying to prove themselves loyal to the king that they have become more loyal than him. Hehehe, what fun it is to watch them yet another time do contortions, turn cartwheels and jump through hoops trying to prove that the COAS’s most recent lecture was meant for everybody and Charlie’s Aunt, but not for the Chief Justice.
Lo and behold, when lawyer Raja Mohammad Irshad (yes, you guessed right: the same Raja Mohammad Irshad who represented the ISI/MI in the Adiala 11-now-7 kidnapping/missing person’s case: four of them, shall we remind ourselves, found dumped by roadsides, beaten, starved and tortured to death) representing one Sardar Mohammad Ghazi told the court that the “... fact is that they (armed forces) have always respected the apex Court”, My Lord the Chief Justice responded saying, “Yes, we have witnessed it yesterday.”
The CJ was obviously referring to what was billed as the COAS’s ‘talk’ to officers at GHQ and which was released to the press by ISPR and published on November 6, in which, using a rather wide brush, he set out limits that “institutions” should not cross “in haste” and other such, what else should I call them but strictures. There is much else in the statement but since we have just mentioned the Adiala 11-now-7 disappeared/dead, let us first take up the bit about the “... haste to achieve something, which can have both positive and negative implications. Let us take a pause and examine the two fundamental questions; one, are we promoting the rule of law and the Constitution? Two, are we strengthening or weakening the institutions?”
Well sirs, where it comes to the disappeared and the missing, the ‘credit’ for which is given to the ‘agencies’ and the Frontier Corps, Balochistan, one can only salute the Chief Justices of the Supreme and Peshawar High Courts for having the courage to relentlessly pursue this matter and thereby helping in “promoting the rule of law and the Constitution”. And to insist on answers from the secretive, brutal and heartless goons who do what they do. Anyone with half a heart who has heard the cries of the families of these disappeared will unhesitatingly say: the pox on the “institutions” who disappear people who then turn up dead, or worse, tortured and dead.
Let me here and now, and one more time say unequivocally, that I am no friend of terrorists and those who would do our country, our soldiery and our people harm. All I demand is that the families at the very least be told that their loved ones are in custody on such and such charge and that they be tried in a court of law in the light of day. Indeed, the Army Act applies to many of these people so they could be tried in a military court. But to simply disappear people who then turn up dead, is not only cruel and inhuman, to use the COAS’s own word, it is totally “unacceptable”.
The COAS also said: “While individual mistakes might have been made by all of us in the country, these should be best left to the due process of law. As we all are striving for … the fundamental principle, that no one is guilty until proven … Let us not pre-judge anyone, be it a civilian or a military person and … undermine respective institutions.”
He is exactly right when he says “individual mistakes … should best be left to the due process of law”. How then, might one ask, is the recall to army service for court martial of three senior retired officers (I do not use the word ‘generals’ for that makes them so very ‘ghussa’ as we are told by the various and varied representatives of the Ghairat Brigades) accused of wrongdoing in the NLC “due process of law”?
These former officers are retired and should be tried by civilian courts, specially because the monies squandered are civilian funds. Indeed, does the COAS know that just three months ago, the former COAS of the Indian Army, General VK Singh; the sitting Vice COAS, Lt Gen SK Singh; the deputy head of their ISPR, Maj Gen SL Narsimhan; and a Colonel, Hitten Sawhney, had to go to the Metropolitan Magistrate of Delhi to get bail before arrest? If he doesn’t, ISPR should ‘put up’ the clipping of the story, which is widely available on the Internet.
COAS Kayani should also ponder these words, which he himself has said: “Let us not pre-judge anyone, be it a civilian or a military person and extend it, unnecessarily, to undermine respective institutions.” Who pray, has ‘undermined’ the army in this case? If anything, the army has undermined itself for opting for the absurdity of recalling retired generals so they are not tried by ‘bloody civilians’. The one institution that has been maligned is parliament with the media having open season on politicians.
Why was minister Hamid Saeed Kazmi jailed for over a year on allegations of corruption. All the media has done with the former army officers is ask questions which too were either answered rudely or not answered at all.
The jewel, however: “The integrity and cohesion of the armed forces is essentially based on the trust reposed in them by the people of Pakistan. Equally important is the trust between the leaders and the led of the armed forces. Any effort to create a distinction between the two undermines the very basis of this concept and is not tolerated, be it Pakistan or any other country.”
The people will only repose trust in them when the armed forces prove that they are part of the people and have not dropped out of the sky. As for creating a distinction between the “leaders and the led (sic) of the armed forces”, this distinction is promoted by the army itself by conflating allegations of corruption against generals to the sacrifices of those who are fighting on the front line.
One is grateful to General Kayani, however, for the fact that he recognises that “no individual or institution has the monopoly to decide what is right or wrong in defining the ultimate national interest”. Well said, General.
P.S.: Why use the term ‘armed forces’? Kayani was talking about the army, was he not?
Published in The Express Tribune, November 9th, 2012.