Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Target - Pakistan Army

Photo: Your Pakistan
Apparently, Pakistan Army is the target. It is being assailed by friends and foes alike. The army, which has stood like a rock in the country’s defence, is the hurdle for its enemies. Our enemies believe that by weakening the army and demonising the ISI, Pakistan can be denuclearised and balkanised. This is, indeed, the illogic of imperialist-hegemonic powers. Yet, more astounding is the role of Pakistan’s civilian-political leadership, who seeks to shrink the army’s space in national affairs. Even while lamenting the ‘last military dictator’, it is the army that is facing the gauntlet. A case in point is the alleged NLC scam.

The ISPR issued succinct comments on the subject. On the NLC issue, in essence, the army took some unprecedented steps. The matter was logically and legally against these retired senior officers. Even while due process of law is under way, misperceptions are being created that should be dispelled. The fact is that the ISPR has done a good job in clarifying the mist and the matter should not be politicised any longer. Even local newspapers have elucidated the ISPR’s viewpoint clearly and convincingly. It is true that there should be no holy cows and the law must take its course. By the same token, military systems all over the world also resort to institutional actions when required. In any event, premature disinformation is not warranted till matters have reached their logical conclusion.

The army’s image may improve due to legal transparency, yet it should not become a precedent for witch-hunt. The officers of various ranks over the last decades have been performing multiple duties. These include, besides basic military duties, martial laws, involvement in civil affairs, intelligence tasks and, more recently, anti-militant operations. Opening a Pandora’s Box of alleged complaints will lead to lowering the military’s morale, besides other adverse affects. Except for multibillion scams or gross violation of the Constitution, other matters should be left to the army’s own internal accountability. In any event, selective accountability - whether of the army, politicians or any other group or institution - will do more harm than good. Reportedly, billions of dollars are stacked in overseas bank accounts by incumbents of previous regime. Accountability for all should be acceptable to all.
The issue is not that the army is above accountability; nor the civilian supremacy is being challenged. The real issue is whatever mistakes were made by it (all armies make mistakes, including Napoleon’s Grand Armée, Hitler’s Wehrmacht and even US post-RMA hyper forces etc), they are being mixed up with anti-Pakistan stratagems of foreign foes. While historically Pakistan faces multifaceted challenges, the recent surge in information warfare onslaught is daunting.

An unrelenting media campaign has been launched in foreign lands and within Pakistan against our national interests. The foreign hostile agenda is mostly geopolitically driven. The local component is either foreign sponsored or misguided and, in some cases, simply frustrated with the prevailing national order. Frequently though, the foreign plus local tirade is directed at the army.

ISI: This fine institution (among the best in the world) deftly defending the nation, and most ably led, is the ire of Pakistan’s enemies. The non-state actors, Balochistan, the militants to the cyber warfare in India etc, are all bogey of the demonisation campaign launched against Pakistan’s first line of defence.

Nukes: Pakistan’s strides in nuclear warfare haunt those who harbour animosity for this country. Of late, Pakistan’s tactical nuclear weapon NASR with its 60km range, reflecting miniaturisation expertise and deterrence enhancer is the phobia of foreign think tanks.

Balochistan: The solution to Balochistan’s problems lies within Pakistan (inclusive of Baloch viewpoint) and not with the UN or anybody else. While Balochistan merits urgent resolution, foreign meddling only spoils the issue.

Untouchables: Foreign agents have become untouchables. Those who betray Pakistan work for foreign powers and break local laws are being projected akin to heroes. After the May incident in Abbottabad, for example, Dr Afridi’s CIA sponsored polio campaign had resulted in an anti-polio campaign. Next, Hussain Haqqani after the memo debacle was offered succour by USA.

The need of the hour is national unity. Whatever shortcomings are present within the national system or grievances with any individual or group, they should not be directed at the army. Serious issues should neither be dogmatically preached, nor slanderously projected via media. They demand proper knowledge, analysis, and presentation that should not forsake the national cause.

The Pakistan Army has heroically fought against multiple adversaries, even in overwhelming odds defended Pakistan. Its prestige is the prestige of the nation. All citizens must support the army in its sacred duties. It, in turn, must remain professional, apolitical, nationalistic and brave. It should further distance itself from the infamous legacy of the previous regime; the challenges ahead demand these virtues from the army. The Pakistan Army supported by the Pakistani nation can weather all storms. Pakistan’s real enemy is outside Pakistan, even if they harbour quislings within.

The geopolitical winds favour Pakistan: Middle East is ablaze with anti- Americanism in which the Americans will be embroiled even further. The Americans will be leaving with the bulk of their forces from Afghanistan, resulting in reduction of Pakistan’s destabilisation. The Chinese will be arriving in Gwadar and bonding Pakistan in an even tighter geopolitical economic embrace. The Russians will be Pakistan’s new friend. The visit of Pakistan Air Chief, followed by the COAS to Moscow and President Putin in Islamabad opens new geopolitical options.

Pakistan Army remains determined and prepared to defend the country. The nation remains prepared to support it!

The writer is a retired brigadier and has authored a book titled Gwadar on the Global Chessboard. Blog: Pakistan and Geopolitics
The post originally published in The Nation Tuesday, September 25, 2012


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