More loyal than the king

Published: November 8, 2012
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The writer is a columnist, a former major of the Pakistan Army and served as press secretary to Benazir Bhutto 
kamran.shafi@tribune.com.pk

The writer is a columnist, a former major of the Pakistan Army and served as press secretary to Benazir Bhutto kamran.shafi@tribune.com.pk

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.

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Reader Comments (33)

  • Lose Dhoti
    Nov 8, 2012 - 11:01PM

    remedy as well as the root cause…….for many ills.

    Recommend

  • karma
    Nov 8, 2012 - 11:17PM

    In any sane country, an COAS giving out warnings to ‘other institutions’ would be sacked. In any other sane democratic country, an Army won’t be considered a pillar of state. It’d just be a division reporting to the executive. Pakistan army has never won a war it has fought, has lost half the country, and its flawed policies have led to massive arming of private militia in its own territory, which now it claims not within its capability to assert its control.

    If an army openly says it can’t ensure control over countries territory, but can over throw civilian govt’s at will, impose martial laws, keep constitution at bay, what do you call such an army?? Other than a ‘ROGUE’ army?

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  • mahmood
    Nov 8, 2012 - 11:57PM

    The approaching civilian supremacy is a tough pill to swallow for these dinosaurs a.k.a. ‘Generals’. They can feel the climate change and are now getting desperate. Just like those reptiles became extinct, so will the era of ‘no accountability for the khakis’.

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  • shariq
    Nov 8, 2012 - 11:59PM

    Now its time to sack COAS right now. Pak Army Zindabad – Awam Murdabad

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  • Akhtar Khan
    Nov 9, 2012 - 12:11AM

    Lets try and take away some positive points from this statement and move away from what we can call a slightly biased opinion from you. This is exactly what the COAS was talking about, do not single out and blame the army for everything and anything it does. Yes, it has made mistakes, very costly mistakes but at the end of the day they are the ones who are fighting the war in Waziristan and protecting our borders. The conviction of Generals is not a bad thing at all, let it happen, but do not use it as a representation of what the army is. The statement was not released to intimidate the judiciary or any other such institution, but just a reminder of what the reprecussions of constantly undermining the army are, in my opinion.

    I believe that General Kayani, although he has made mistakes, has done a good job in what he has been asked to do. We should ask ourselves, what has the civilian government done in its term? the economy is about to crumble, there is no law and order and the country has been looted by them. Some may argue that the army takes up so much of our budget, classic, but it does need money to fight the war against the extremists who are bombing our country at every opportunity.

    My point is, do not blame the Army for everything, try and support it for once, maybe things change. The Pakistan Army is fighting these wars for you, not any other country’s population.

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  • Asif Ali khan
    Nov 9, 2012 - 12:14AM

    Missing persons issue is really very serious.the families of missing persons are in agony.few families of my own village are passing trough this painful exercise.They must know the status of their loved one.
    We know that Pakistan is going through abnormal conditions & abnormal steps should be taken to put it on tract.We are facing very serious challenges.this is not the time to add fuel to fire.
    I honestly believe that General Kayani(Pak Army Chief)two questions are very relevant.Are we really promoting rule of law/constitution & are we really strengthening/weakening the institutions.I believe no body care of law & those who matters are weakening the institutions.This is very unfortunate that by Democracy common Pakistani citizens means conducting only elections & politicians means a licence of loot & plunder for five years.

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  • gp65
    Nov 9, 2012 - 12:15AM

    “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.

    This is the key. Thank you for your OpEd. It is a very efective rebuttal to Asad Munir’s OpEd’ In defense of General Kayani’.

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  • Parvez
    Nov 9, 2012 - 12:20AM

    Can’t really fault you on the substance of your article. I suppose its your style not to mince words, have to commend you on this.

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  • Mirza
    Nov 9, 2012 - 12:23AM

    Once again a great Op Ed by KS, thanks for that. The generals must ask the question why they are hated by the masses. Why don’t the masses hate the navy or air forces who have not committed atrocities and high treason upon the people of Pakistan and constitution? The army is paid govt servant not the master like many others govt servants.

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  • Arifq
    Nov 9, 2012 - 12:23AM

    The COAS or for that matter CJP have no business issuing political or policy statements, only in Pakistan.

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  • Shahbaz Asif Tahir
    Nov 9, 2012 - 1:00AM

    Kamran,
    No matter what you say, take a refrendum even and Pakistan’s population,
    will always Inshallah have trust and confidence in the establishment. The army,
    is the world’s sixth largest, ready to meet any challenge, by the grace of Almighty
    Allah.
    Shame on PPP, the thieves, looters, plunderers, and enemies of Pakistan.

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  • Shaikh Mohommad
    Nov 9, 2012 - 3:03AM

    Those days where might was right has gone and gone for good. Pakistan Army should understand that the country is no more their private estate. They should now wind up their economic and political empire before it is too late. Pakistan Fauji Foundation which runs banks and factories should be wound up. The Army should return to the barracks where it truly belongs. Those who aspire to rule the country should join the political arena and contest elections. This is the only to run the country. NOT THROUGH BARREL OF A GUN.Recommend

  • Karim Azizi
    Nov 9, 2012 - 5:44AM

    As much as I loathe Zardari and the PPP Jiyalas, democracy will be a slow and brutal process for us. The SC no doubt has double standards, what happened to the rental power cases? Its questionable compromise on the Swiss letter to allow Zardari another term? (mark my words) Unprecedented corruption and the SC is playing “you scratch my back I scratch yours” with almost all institutions in the country.

    Simple solution for the country is to re-create an impartial checks and balances system by making amendments in the Constitution. Army NEEDS to come under civilian leadership no matter the cost. Judges NEED to be appointed by either the Senate or Parliament. This is one thing our Founding Fathers missed and we need to rectify it by recognizing it as a major problem. Democratically-elected governments are sent packing and a PM is hung while Generals embezzling funds in civilian capacity is perfectly acceptable? Where is CJ’s suo moto notice now?

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  • gp65
    Nov 9, 2012 - 7:16AM

    @Shahbaz Asif Tahir: “The army, is the world’s sixth largest, ready to meet any challenge, by the grace of Almighty Allah.”

    Are you sure it is willing to meet any challenge? Is it willing to take on the TTP in NWA? No. Did the jets fly when Salala was being bombed for 2 hours? No. Did they fly during Abbotabad raid? No. Do they fly to bring down drones? No. All it can do is kill and rape its own Bengali citizens and bomb its own people in FATA (this is something India never did in Kashmir at the peak of the insurgency).

    By the way the Pakistani soldiers are brave. No one questions their patriotism and bravery but army leadership? Project themselves as great despite never having a won a war that they themselves started and yet moving around in BMW series 7s and allotting themselves prime land at throw away prices.

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  • K B Kale
    Nov 9, 2012 - 7:30AM

    Your reference to “Charlie’s Aunt” took me to my school days 55 years ago! Thanks a lot.
    Another great article, Sir, but please do take good care of yourself.
    Regards and best wishes,
    K B Kale

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  • Nov 9, 2012 - 9:08AM

    @Akhtar Khan:
    ” what has the civilian government done in its term? the economy is about to crumble, there is no law and order and the country has been looted by them. Some may argue that the army takes up so much of our budget, classic, but it does need money to fight the war against the extremists who are bombing our country at every opportunity.”

    To evaluate army their performance, commission and omission are to be considered . Why a comparison with the civilian govt’s failure to good governance.? Any wrong in civilian government does not square wrong doing of the army and its mindset.. Decision taken by the army leaders can not be taken as individual’s act.. It is their policies. strategy and mindset to treat civilian wisdom inferior which is wrong and the country is facing the terrorist problem. Lion’s share of the budget too goes to them leaving less for the economic development . Thanks to the corrupt politicians chosen by the people to represent them. But all are being ridiculed blamed and and criticized for their acts or omissions. But the moment Army generals are proved to be guilty and are and advised to take the due process of law to punish them .Army general gives veiled warning to undermine their institution. Yes , due to inefficiency / corrupt practices of the politicians army enjoys sympathy from a section of the society which will evaporate gradually if staus quo is maintained in their mindset.

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  • Singh
    Nov 9, 2012 - 9:15AM

    @Shahbaz Asif Tahir:
    No matter what you say, take a referendum even and Pakistan’s population,
    will always Inshallah have trust and confidence in the establishment. The army,
    is the world’s sixth largest, ready to meet any challenge,

    Army Which Never won any war.
    Lost Half of country.
    90 thousand soldier surrender in one day
    And you still think it is great Army.
    It is white elephant which is eating every one share in Pakistan to stay alive.
    Wake up pakistan

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  • aj
    Nov 9, 2012 - 9:15AM

    @Shahbaz Asif Tahir:

    Sir can you please tell, than why is world’s Sixth Largest military is unable to deal with the Rag Tag militants of Talibans? and why they have failed to defend the innocent citizens of our beloved country?????

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  • Raza Khan
    Nov 9, 2012 - 12:24PM

    Why our Army has not won even single war leaving aside India but not even with Talibans? What is the justification of keeping million men being payed from our limited resources when they are not performing?

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  • Ali
    Nov 9, 2012 - 1:32PM

    The masses being people like you who are considered upper middle class and are living a pretty damn luxurious life. Get out of your little bubble my friend. The ‘masses’ hate everyone priviliged like you lot. You would know that if you got up from your couch and placed your laptop aside genius@Mirza:

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  • Ali
    Nov 9, 2012 - 1:38PM

    ‘Taliban’ is a mindset not a tangible force. Defeat the mindset my friend is the key. Education is the key. Regularizing madrassahs, changing your hate filled school curricula and so on. Even the americans with their sophisticated toys cant defeat the taliban @aj:

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  • Ali
    Nov 9, 2012 - 1:44PM

    But all those organizations pay millions in taxes and contribute to the national exchequer and create jobs. Why do you think the govt is able to formulate a budget Einstien?. Its all about economics which you should have read about in school IF you went to any that is.@Shaikh Mohommad:

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  • jonnyp
    Nov 9, 2012 - 2:38PM

    “armed forces” and “security forces” is nomenclature employed by our military and also our media to avoid naming one single entity when they mess up – similar to using “NATO forces” or “ISAF forces” even though an overwhelming majority is just from one country – Orwell called it newspeak

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  • ishrat salim
    Nov 9, 2012 - 5:11PM

    @Akhtar Khan:

    I Salute you for yr positive way of thinking…..adding, I ask those Army bashers…..has America won any battle since WW 1 till date…and have ever heard the Americans / their media & media loving talkers etc; rediculing their Army as we guys are doing ? our political brains have limited capacity to confront our Army brass because the politicians are corrupt themselves….the day they become honest, and patriotic & take care of their subjects, these politicians will have unflinching support of the mass, from whom they derive their ultimate source of strength….similar was the case in Turkey, which was under the influence of the Army supported civilian govts, because their past politicians were not honest ( their past corruptions having been exposed by independent ” truth & reconciliation commission ” – unlike our NAB & upcoming NAC, a more toothless institution as claimed not less than our NAB themselves ),but now for the past 10 years since Islamic party came to power, the Army has lost its influence & we have seen that more than 400 of their officers including some very powerful generals have been arrested in cases ranging from coup attempt & past coups against civilian govt….
    KS, the author is paranoid & obsessed of the institution to which he belonged once, even retired as a major, for reason unknown…his only topic is our Army & never leaves any opportunity to ridicule the institution he served in the past…..
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  • Shahid Aleem
    Nov 9, 2012 - 6:18PM

    Why was this writer removed from Army. Can he put all the facts in open.

    Secondly, does he know how to speak on TV. What did he mean by ‘Thuday masr kay nikala’. Is this decent language.

    What a shame!

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  • iftikhar
    Nov 9, 2012 - 6:44PM

    If our own forces are involved then its too bad but I heard a lot about Indian forces that they ve killed a number of innocent Kashmiries and they follow black law like pota etc. why we dont discuss them in detail. Why dont we raise our voice against them. Anyone answer me plz

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  • NAkhtar
    Nov 9, 2012 - 6:53PM

    Gneral Kayani was very much appriciated once he removed negaive perception of the army after the SAWAT OPERATION, it is not the mass it is the government that pushed the army in different operations and the blame them ( generals),what a dirty game.
    Pakistni have some problem, they generalise the incidents and always jump to conlude,why Judiciary has problem with the Army, CJ is claiming to be more powerful authority under the umbrella of Constitution and nt ready to accept as powerful to the Parliament or generals. He feels insecurity,so fear of insecurity has made him offensive, we know the theory of OFFENSIVE brings desatrous only.

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  • iftikhar
    Nov 9, 2012 - 6:56PM

    @Shahid Aleem:
    sorry i dont know what happened to the writer in army can u narrate?

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  • Shahbaz Asif Tahir
    Nov 9, 2012 - 7:18PM

    @Singh:
    @gp65:

    Bengali women, were raped by the mukti bayani, in the guise of Pakistan soldiers,
    in uniform. They were trained, and funded by India, i.e RAW. There are two valid
    sources to proove this point. First read the Hammod ur Rahman commission report,
    secondly read the book by “Sharmeela Bhose”, an hindu Bengali, and citizen of India.
    Sharmeela exposes the evil intentions of RAW, in the debacle of 1971, role of Indian
    trained mukti bayani, who in the guise of Pakistani soldiers, committed atrocities,
    to turn the population against Pakistan.
    Finally recall the role of your so called revered leader ZAB. His refusal to concede
    defeat, in the 1970 elections, his use of foul language in his speeches against the
    Bengalis, and his secret pact with Shaikh Mujeeb, and Indira Gandhi, to dismember
    Pakistan. All of them were humiliated in this life, by the command of Allah Subhana,
    and met a horrible end.
    Mr Singh lay of Pakistan’s internal matters. It is not your damn business.

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  • tariq khan
    Nov 9, 2012 - 8:53PM

    he is dismissed from Army thats why he
    is ??????????????????????Recommend

  • major-ji
    Nov 9, 2012 - 9:13PM

    Sir K Shafi. Once again I would like to remind you unless mindset from the outset (training in PMA) will not be changed, the officers in Khaki will never consider themselves answerable to any civil law. You can see the clippinng of ex COAS Gen Aslam Beg challenging any one to show the power to try him. Currently no civil leader has the power or courage to take any Khaki man for trial because each one himself/herself is corrupt. So as you are doing just keep on enjoying on papers the whole matter as intellecual debate.

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  • Enlightened
    Nov 9, 2012 - 9:33PM

    A spot on analysis, hitting the bull’s eye once again. Shafi Sahib, please give your analysis on army’s failure to contain terrorism in Pakistan and its poor performance against TTP which is a matter of life and death for the people of the country.

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  • Nov 10, 2012 - 11:45PM

    @Kamran Shafi
    This is what people do when they are kicked out of an institution dishonorably.

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