Friday, April 25, 2014

Nawaz Government vis Armed Forces of Pakistan

By Brigadier Tariq Sher (R)

As a citizen of this country one wonders as to what kind of country one is living. There seems to be a crisis like situation after every forty eight hours. While there is serious law and order situation at least in three provinces besides economic and other issues; the Nawaz Govt gets into serious problem one after the other due to capacity issue. The institutions which should work together to resolve the miseries of the people are in tussle with each other. If these institutions cannot become a team; the dream will remain unfulfilled. The Nawaz Govt has a history of having problems with Pak Army. At least this time, one hoped that a better handling of relations will be seen but unfortunately it happened too fast and too early. One may say anything but a line has been drawn between the Govt and the Army, which is unfortunate. Of course, the discredit is to the Govt. It has been lead due to the following.
- Desire of Nawaz to control everything at once and by not giving space to others, while intellectually he is just an average politician.
- He lacks the ability to articulate institutions and policies at national and strategic levels.
- His decision making process is slow, as he depends on others for input and remains divided thus making delayed decisions.
- At the time of crisis, standing by a media group for personal relations rather than with the aggrieved institution (which was insulted) thus making a grave mistake of judgment and displaying lack of statesmanship.
It will be worthwhile to discuss another actor in this issue and it is the Geo channel. Geo, over a period of time has grown in to a monster with no internal controls and never bothered to abide by any law, values or code of conduct. Its vocal and pseudo intellectual anchors and producers said what they felt and due to its very strong relations it had actually made individuals and institutions hostage. They were the policy and opinion makers in Pakistan and enjoyed unlimited control. However, these anchors never realized that they are simple pawns of a Seith( Mir Shakeel) and serving foreign agenda. Their arrogance and conduct is more like O’Reilly of FOX TV. The Geo started crossing the red line for many years now. 

Therefore, it is the considered opinion of the security establishment that Geo is working against the national interest of Pakistan. Geo’s management and anchors were advised to show restrain in the larger national interest of Pakistan but due to various interests they never paid any heed to it. Geo never tried to understand the national security and concerns of those guarding geographical/ ideological frontiers of Pakistan, on only one pretext i.e, “freedom of media”. One only hoped that Geo should have learnt something from Indian and American media. It was on an unfortunate day, when there was a murder attempt on Hamid Mir that Geo went out of its mind in share arrogance and crossed all limits of national security, PEMRA rules, decency, values and respect to others. While no institution is untouchable, the critique has to be balanced and based on facts alone. Geo’s action was not only condemned by the nation at large including Pakistani media but the Ministry of Defence had to ultimately move against it to stop such kind of conduct in future.

While all this happened, the supreme commander of the Armed Forces was found on the opposite side. His ministers’ views were reflection of his policy. The concerned ministers failed to realize the gravity of the situation and reacted late and that too unwisely is a sad part of the episode. Raymond Davis was a CIA contractor’s employee. He was not even an employee of CIA. But once he got in to trouble in Pakistan the President of USA not only declared him a diplomat but sent John Kerry to Pakistan and got him out of Pakistan. That much for the honour of CIA and US national security by the US President. On the contrary, misjudgement of Nawaz in this situation remains a case study in our history. The Army and ISI are the key institutions and major stake holders especially in the war against terrorism and national security; therefore, they need to be valued on their merit.

Present obtaining environment are very favourable to democracy and every citizen of this country wants to see it succeeding. One hopes and prays that Musharraf was the last dictator of Pakistan’s history and everyone supports it including the khakis. The tenure of Gen Kayani bears testimony to it. While the Govt and the Army will enjoy cordial relations soon, the policy of Geo channel remains stubborn /misplaced and it has not learnt any lesson. An organization, which fails to learn from its mistakes, is likely to falter. Geo will continue to be a bad example in Pakistani media in foreseeable future.
One always prayed that Govt - Army relations should have been most cordial, as there are so many important issues that need immediate attention but it did not happen so. The way forward is that the Govt must strategize to keep cordial relations with the Armed Forces and its Institutions and pay them due respect, which they deserve and stand by them when required. After all, the Prime Minister is the supreme commander and should have the ability to understand the national security concerns of his important institutions. The Army must also understand that it is subservient to the civilian government and should address its concerns in the right spirit and appropriate forum. For Geo, one can only pray.

About the Author: Brig Tariq Sher (R) is a very high profile and well read veteran military officer who has a very wide and broad awareness of issues related to strategy, geo-politics and international relations. The views expressed by the author are purely his own - but do represent the feelings and sentiments of a large portion of people of Pakistan.

The article is already published at Facebook

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