Crucial questions

Published: October 30, 2014
The writer is a retired major general of the Pakistan Army

The writer is a retired major general of the Pakistan Army

The question is whether the Pakistan armed forces will ever take over again. They definitely can, but they say they won’t. They say what they mean, and do what they say. Concurrently, by habit ingrained through constant training, they keep their plans ready to cater for all conceivable contingencies. Therefore, if the situation changes drastically and they have to put one of the contingency plans into action, all the noble intent notwithstanding, they will. This is how the military works.

It is not intended to sound insidious, cynical or mysterious. The aim is to clear the mist that traditionally shrouds the military. That is why, perhaps, it is the most newsworthy and least understood of all the institutions in the country.

The media were as free as any in the world. Parliament in its latest rebirth is almost seven years old and the bigwigs amongst the politicians are oozing with confidence, having discovered their limitless importance, rights and privileges. The military, the holy cow of yesteryear, is no more holy. It has been defamed, rebuked, slandered and provoked to a limit on the floor of parliament and outside it, despite the constitutional provisions granting its dignity and stature in national life. Some media men have sold their souls to the devil. Most try and find hidden meanings, and some offer meaningful ‘one-liners’ to explain the entire philosophy behind an otherwise simple ISPR release. For some, military bashing has turned out to be a highly profitable occupation.

The government is faced with a self-created dilemma. Conjectures, accusations and boastful rhetoric betray confusion and a lack of clear perspective. All the beneficiaries of the status quo have joined forces with the government. It sometimes appears that the allies and the advisers are taking the government up the jungle path once again. The end of the road is nowhere in sight.

The contention of the script writers was as preposterous as the failed drama staged to malign the DG ISI. The story of an alleged rift in the higher ranks of the army was a disgrace. It must have sent alarm bells ringing abroad, for the prospects of mutiny in the armed forces in a nuclear Pakistan could have dangerous consequences for the region and the world, especially when the military still remains in full control of nuclear assets. The truth is that the military does encourage freedom of expression at all levels. Once the brainstorming is over and the policy is announced, everyone follows suit. Procrastination during the implementation stage is unforgivable. A military chief can retire any rank at any time without assigning the reason and everyone knows that.

The crucial question will remain unanswered unless we know where the answer lies. It does not lie with the DG ISPR and not even with General Raheel Sharif himself. The answer lies with the politicians. They must put their act together, find a political solution to a purely political problem, stop harassing innocent people, tone down the arrogance that is too obvious to hide, shed for a moment their imperial egos, and start behaving like ordinary mortals for a change; before it becomes difficult for other institutions to tell the difference between patience and dereliction, before more people come out on the streets, not to join the protesters but to ask for an extraordinary and extra-constitutional dispensation, and before God forbid, that contingency evolves itself and sends Pakistan reeling back to square one.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 30th, 2014.

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Reader Comments (5)

  • Toticalling
    Oct 30, 2014 - 1:59PM

    Strange logic. I agree politicians must give better performance, but the army has no right to derail any elected government. Army boots have run the country long enough. WE should not forget that even when they are not directly ruling, they pressurise from behind the scenes. WE have not forgotten Memo gate affair and some which have not been made to come out.


  • Anjaaan
    Oct 30, 2014 - 2:38PM

    The Generals, including the retired ones want to remind the political leadership of Pakistan and the general public that the present innings of democracy lasted seven years due to their mercy and they are waiting for the politicians to make mistakes. Assertions like this actually weaken the democracy in Pakistan. In a mature democracy the mistakes made by politicians are brought to light by the fourth estate and the culprits are punished by the courts of law and also by the people during elections, not by an ever waiting army.


  • Lalit
    Nov 1, 2014 - 8:19AM

    reads like headmasters rebuking his pupil,reminding him who is the boss……in a ‘democratic’ country worth its salt,Military high ups(serving or retd) have no business, spelling out dos and don’ts for the govt.its often the other way round….but remember its Pakistan ands more so Pakistan Army.


  • Shabbir
    Nov 1, 2014 - 4:28PM

    It’s an excellent article by Askari Raza Malik. Political leadership needs to show maturity and put their house in order or Pakistan could further plunge into darkness. Maligning the armed forces will be very harmful for the country and enemies will take advantage of situation xx


  • khalid
    Nov 28, 2014 - 10:14PM

    Democracy in Pakistan? which has so far been led by mostly corrupt Mafia, why don’t we take into account LEADERS like we have for example, one of the true champion democrat(asif Zardari) stole billions of dollars and sitting now in the lap of his real patrons waiting for his next turn again , Now allowing free hand to the other champion(Nawaz Sharif BBC fame) to shift what ever is possible to his sons in UK to boost their business empire.and it is worthless mentioning others in this gang.
    what Pakistanis are looking for some one like Mhatir in this country to lead them and not the thugs.I am surprised when a retired soldier only suggested in his article that instead making mess, Pakistani politicians should sit down to sort out their problem and move forward, some people have started to take it to different meaning.


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