Responding to criticism: General Raheel vows to ‘preserve army’s dignity’

Published: April 8, 2014
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General Raheel Sharif rallies the troops at the SSG Headquarters in Tarbela. PHOTO: PPI

General Raheel Sharif rallies the troops at the SSG Headquarters in Tarbela. PHOTO: PPI

ISLAMABAD: 

Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif has said that the army will uphold the sanctity of all institutions but will “resolutely preserve its own dignity and institutional pride”.

Gen Raheel made these remarks on Monday during a visit to the headquarters of the Special Service Group (SSG) at Ghazi Base, Tarbela. He was responding to the concerns of soldiers on ‘undue criticism’ of the army in recent days, according to a statement issued by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR).

The ISPR, though, did not specify the nature of the criticism against the army. Officials suggested that the army chief’s statement might be aimed at pacifying the anger within the institution over the treason trial of former military ruler Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf and the government’s peace initiative with the Taliban.

Gen Raheel has reportedly advised the prime minister to allow Musharraf to leave the country for his medical treatment and to look after his ailing mother. The government, however, has so far refused to remove his name from the Exit Control List (ECL).

The army leadership is also believed to be upset over the release of TTP prisoners by the government. The security establishment believes that it is too early to release such prisoners.

Gen Raheel was appointed Chief of the Army Chief in November last year by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and this was for the first time that he publicly responded to criticism against the army. Nawaz Sharif has had troubled relations with his army chiefs during his previous two brief stints in power.

Some analysts are of the view that Gen Raheel’s statement is an indication that the army is upset over certain issues.

“The army leadership is under immense pressure from within the institution over the way peace talks are being conducted by the government with the Taliban,” said defence analyst Lt Gen (retd) Talat Masood. “It gives the impression that the military is a weak institution and cannot confront militants, though, in reality that is not the case.”

He said the second part of Gen Raheel’s statement might be aimed at conveying a message to politicians that they should not blast the army as an institution under the pretext of Musharraf’s trial.

During his interaction with SSG commandos, Gen Raheel said Pakistan Army never has and never will shy away from rendering any sacrifice in ensuring a formidable defence and security of the motherland.

He paid tribute to the sacrifices of the SSG soldiers and officers and acknowledged their tremendous success in their fight against terrorists. “Pakistan Army takes pride in our brave and battle hardened Special Services Group, who are ranked among the top elite forces of the world,” he was quoted as saying by the ISPR. “Given the specialised nature of their employment in the most sensitive, complex and challenging environment, the COAS praised them for their outstanding professional skills,” it stated.

“Drawing its strength from national support, with its characteristic coherence and resilience, Pakistan Army has contributed immensely towards national security and nation building and will continue to deliver on its mission.”

Published in The Express Tribune, April 8th, 2014.

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Reader Comments (32)

  • Ali Hassan
    Apr 8, 2014 - 3:48AM

    Nawaz Sharrif & Co, don’t get to the point when Army will say “TIME TO PACK-UP”.
    Please show some respect as clearly they are ones defending the country, not you politicians.

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  • Arindom
    Apr 8, 2014 - 3:55AM

    Now the Government should take the *hint*hint*wink*wink* from the Army!!Recommend

  • lalai
    Apr 8, 2014 - 4:57AM

    I don’t know why our Generals are immune from learning process. Deciding the future based on past experience will further ruin the army as institution. Time to learn and act accordingly.

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  • Ch. Allah Daad
    Apr 8, 2014 - 6:05AM

    If Democracy is murdered again, Musharaf will be the first Dictator in history who will achieve this Hat-trick. Dictatorship by the Musharaf, for the Musharaf and of the Musharaf.

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  • AnisAqeel
    Apr 8, 2014 - 6:11AM

    General Raheel is right to think that dignity of army may have been compromised the way Government is handling terrorists like negotiating with a sovereign party. These terrorists are killers of our jawans and innocent people and the parties who support them should be banned altogether and dealt with highhandedly.
    On the other hand he is wrong to protect a high treason candidate who has caused the maximum damage to the dignity of the armed forces and must be decided within the justice system without any concession whatsoever, To earn back dignity, army must stay within the constitutional framework

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  • RD Sultan
    Apr 8, 2014 - 7:03AM

    More proof that the military rules Pakistan.

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  • ahsan
    Apr 8, 2014 - 7:13AM

    You need to command respect instead of demanding it.

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  • Naseer
    Apr 8, 2014 - 7:55AM

    I fully support the army and hope they will do whatever is best for Pakistan.

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  • ahmed ali
    Apr 8, 2014 - 8:49AM

    once again those who gave heavy mandate to PML-N should realized their mistake..

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  • Instantaneous
    Apr 8, 2014 - 9:06AM

    Here we go again!

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  • azhar
    Apr 8, 2014 - 9:10AM

    if matter relates to talks with Taliban then it is understandable the Pak army should be consulted as it is major stake holder, but if COAS statement relates to Musharraf trail then it is matter of concern for whole nation. Pak army should stay away form trail as it is matter of special court. let the court to do his work. the due process must go on.

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  • Imtiaz
    Apr 8, 2014 - 9:27AM

    In Musharraf’s trial, the army sees an erorsion of its power, accumulated through 5 decades of unconstitutional moves. What was previously unthinkable, undreamable, is coming to pass. A general is being subjected to rule of law, at least symbollically if not in substance. ‘Saving dignity at every cost’ means we will take down all of you 180 million (our salary paymasters) before you take down one of us.

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  • Khan
    Apr 8, 2014 - 9:36AM

    While the General can give tough statements, he should know very well that there is no room for any further adventurism for military establishment in political arena. People will never tolerate that. They need to come into terms with reality. People are rightly criticising army’s role in running bakeries, leasing companies, banks and food factories. Besides, It has yet to win a war for us. It is about time that the military undergoes some sole searching and establish for itself the roles that other armies are carrying out i.e protecting the geographical frontiers of the country.

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  • SHM
    Apr 8, 2014 - 10:40AM

    At-last the silence has broken down, Thank you General.

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  • Aschraful Makhlooq
    Apr 8, 2014 - 11:06AM

    PML-N’s leadership was excessively saying Musharraf “the traitor” and forgotten this harsh reality that Musharraf has been army’s chief and army never leaves alone its key officers either in-service or retired and this PML-N’s leadership’s harsh attitude coerced COAS to give this alarming statement because army needs only one jeep and two trucks for coup not the whole battalion or unit.PML-N should never forget this harsh reality that only by the army’s support and backup the democratic system in Pakistan can complete its tenure and in other words PML-N is trying its best and utmost to make army its subservient department and army would never make it successful…..

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  • Aschraful Makhlooq
    Apr 8, 2014 - 11:08AM

    PML-N’s leadership was excessively saying Musharraf “the traitor” and forgotten this harsh reality that Musharraf has been army’s chief and army never leaves alone its key officers either in-service or retired and this PML-N’s leadership’s harsh attitude coerced COAS to give this alarming statement because army needs only one jeep and two trucks for coup not the whole battalion or unit.PML-N should never forget this harsh reality that only by the army’s support and backup the democratic system in Pakistan can complete its tenure and in other words PML-N is trying its best and utmost to make army its subservient department and army would never make it successful.PML-N should take this COAS’ statement seriously if wants to complete its tenure and must has to reconsider about Musharraf’s issues….

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  • tab
    Apr 8, 2014 - 11:22AM

    If one goes by Raheel’s statement, army seems to be somewhat confused about its integrity and where does its loyalty lies!!

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  • Nida Alvi
    Apr 8, 2014 - 12:06PM

    @Aschraful Makhlooq:
    The COAS must realize that the people of Pakistan love Army to protect them and not to rule them. The budget of the Army is paid through sacrificing the expenditure on health, education and social welfare. Army is one of the many institutions of the State. It should never be dancing on the tunes of any individual.
    The statement reminds us of General Stanley McCrystal of US Central Command, whose veiled statement led to his immediate retirement in the hands of President Obama. General Raheel Shareef has attended WestPoint-USA and therefore has to weigh such statements!

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  • Aschraful Makhlooq
    Apr 8, 2014 - 12:27PM

    @Nida Alvi:
    Army is for to be respected and honored and army’s huge budget never means army is subservient of yesterday’s corrupt politicians and just due to Allah Almighty’s blessings and army we Pakistani people sleep peacefully and our brave soldiers wake on the borders for our security.

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  • goldconsumer
    Apr 8, 2014 - 1:00PM

    @lalai:
    Yea, Musharaaf should have learned from Ziaul Haq for that matter.

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  • hmm
    Apr 8, 2014 - 2:38PM

    @Nida Alvi:
    Have you ever analysed the annual budget of Pakistan, THOROUGHLY? Military budget is way less than the amount allocated for Non-Development & development budget, debt repayments, salaries & perks of Govt employees etc- most of the money goes under these headings & its the Govt who is at wrong for not allocating enough money for social welfare – just give a peek to it. Lastly, Pak army contributes in Govt’s kitty as well, they export military equipment (Govt earns valuable foreign exchange). I’m just bemused by the fact that so many of us are so ill informed of the facts.

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  • Pakistani Patriot
    Apr 8, 2014 - 6:34PM

    Let me set the record straight for all those who criticize the military budget and for the few businesses they run. The military budget is NOT huge vis a vis the security needs of the country given our tough strategic position and historical experiences. It IS large only because of lack of revenue collection and the level of curruption in the govt. Second, the few business like the CSD and Fauji Foundation are run by retired officers and not by serving ones, and mind you they are some of the best run institutions in Pakistan. The concern in Army is due to the unjust treatment of Musharraf (what with the illegal disqualification from elections and the singling out for treason while judicial and political cohorts are ignored) and the mocking of late. Pakistan needs truth and reconcillation not injustice and vendetta politics of the past.

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  • Assad
    Apr 8, 2014 - 6:56PM

    @azhar:
    The due process needs to be fair from the start. Given this is such a paramount issue, Musharraf is not getting a fair shot at this and it is for all to see except his antagonists.

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  • Assad
    Apr 8, 2014 - 7:01PM

    @AnisAqeel:
    So what is the constitutional framework? Should the Army allow the ruling party to run the country into the ground to preserve the paper constitution? Which is what is going on and all you folks keep on clamoring for is the supremacy of the constitution. Why is the Army chief wrong in standing up for his institution when the useless politicians cannot? When was the last time you heard something sane come out of the mouth of the Defence Minister to defend the military from inane critique? Oh I forget, he does not know the ABC of defence because he is a useless political crony and appointee of the ruling party.

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  • Apr 8, 2014 - 7:12PM

    Some times I am totally surprised to see the infatuation and blind love of some Pakistanis for the Army. Look at the history of the world no Army ruled country has achieved any thing but destruction of the same people who brought them in power. Army is never trained to govern the country it is trained to fight and win an external enemy. Look around the President of America sacked Gen MacArthur, the hero of World War II in South East Asia. Look next door in India many Generals have been put at their place because in governing the country civil authority has to prevail. Army is their tool to achieve set goals when all other channels fail.

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  • Hafeez Chishti
    Apr 8, 2014 - 8:39PM

    It might please anti-government elements without thinking that dictatorial rules have always taken away the people’s ownership in government through their vote – whatever weak ownership it initially is. Respect or dignity is not imposed, or is begged, it is offered and earned. Nothing is more despicable than respect based on fear.

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  • AnisAqeel
    Apr 8, 2014 - 9:57PM

    @Assad:
    Shameless criticism on army or political structure is wrong but constructive objections are steps to progress. Army is a wing of defense ministry (not independent) and not an authority to rule the entire political system. People in Pakistan are not that educated to analyse each institutions’s responsibilities but just sentiments that are driven under propaganda. I don’t want to indulge in an argument that can hurt prestige of our Jawans (our generals have always been politicians with a skin of soldiers). If you have mind and heart to absorb the truth then think of these generals who could not and are not able to protect our borders (give me one example they won any war and I will give you five they lost) and they were unable to stable the country politically five times and fifty years of rule. As an institution they are disciplined for themselves and ignorantly not for the entire nation. They are playing jack of all trades and factually are master of none. I respect our Jawans’s sacrifices but they must become master of geographical strength to regain prestige that was lost during last dictatorship for lust of power.

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  • Saqib
    Apr 8, 2014 - 10:16PM

    Clear message, but knowing the history of Nawaz Sharif, he will now turn against General Raheel instead of giving in. The instinct of revenge is very strong in Nawaz Sharif and he has no control over himself in this regard. He did same with Musharraf and Musharrff turned against him. Mian sahib should come out of his arrogance.Recommend

  • Pakistani Patriot
    Apr 8, 2014 - 10:27PM

    @AnisAqeel:
    I take strong objection to your statement about the last dictatorship’s lust for power. Democracy does not start and end with elections. It is highly dependent on how the govt behaves and delivers. In that sense Musharraf was much more democratic than the so called political-civilian govts of PPP and PMLN. The parliament was much more effective in passing new and progressive laws, and furthering minority and womens rights. If he had lust for power he would not have held free and fair elections of 2002 and 2008, freed up and promoted electronic media, and resigned when he felt he could not contribute more.

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  • Yusuf
    Apr 10, 2014 - 1:31AM

    We take great Pride with Pakistan Armed Forces. The Citizen of Pakistan respect well guarded by the government. We are now also demanding that 60% budget spent on civilian well beings. For the last so many years civilians have been on austerity and its time we demand good education, proper primary schooling, college and a decent dignified life ahead.
    Every citizen of Pakistan must be provided 500 yards allotment for decent housing, living a dignified life and not 120 yards as recommended. After all we too deserve a decent life as respected citizen. Our M.A. Jinnah Road in Karachi looks in pathetic condition. Poor governance in both the Military days as well as in Sind Democratic days made no difference. We need to carry out major reconstruction work in the Business District. One less F16 will do the work in good governance system. Current government of Sind in power lacks the capacity to do development. Seriously we need to do some serious development for Citizen of Pakistan.

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  • furqan
    Apr 10, 2014 - 10:38PM

    statement given by coas reflects that this army can only tolerate a gov guaranteed by nro by its father america to complete 5 years otherwise they immediately get hungry to wrap up a democratic gov,thats a real shame

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  • Aug 7, 2014 - 9:19PM

    nice info and pictures of special services group of Pakistan army and its special services group … here i have collected some information about training and organization of special services group of Pakistan army ..
    i hope you will find it informative and enjoy it.. SSG Pakistan Army.

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