So what next?


Army that rules cannot fight was the theme of my research article I wrote when I was attending Australian Staff Course in 1973. My sponsoring DS (Directing Staff) called me and asked me how I could dare write on such a subject knowing the environment in Pakistan. I said I was entitled to my views, and jokingly remarked that I was too far away from home and wont be reported. I went to the Pakistan Military Academy in 1959 and had seen how Ayub Khan usurped power and how he misused it with impunity. Back in Daska a tehsil of district Sialkot my battalion was employed on internal security duties in 1964 in the wake of elections of the president of Pakistan under 1962 constitution. A handful of Basic Democracy Members were to cast their votes in that tehsil out of a total of 40,000 from West Pakistan. Assistant Superintendent of Police called on me as I was the Adjutant and informed me how have they coerced, cajoled or pressurized the BD Members to vote for Ayub Khan. I was aghast and looked at his face as to who asked you to do that. That was not the mandate given to my battalion. I was rather nave in this game at that time. He smiled at me in pity and left.

Then came the 65 War. Our troops fought really bravely. I can speak first hand as I was myself there at Chawinda. But when I later studied the geneses of this conflict I was shocked to learn how not to fight a war. There was no political policy, strategic planning or higher direction of war. Irony is that the ruler became Field Marshal. Breaking away of East Pakistan was written on the wall. Yahya Khan, a hand picked crony Chief, only gave it the last push. Had there been political governments, howsoever inefficient, from 1959 when Ayub Khan took over till 1971, Pakistan in my opinion would have survived or at least Army would have stayed professional. That was the crux of my above thesis.

I was only a major then but was to witness even further army intrusion in political affairs in the years to come. Let me confess at the outset that I myself was also a part of that system. I commanded 111 Brigade during Gen Zia ul Haqs regime and remained Martial Law Administrator Islamabad and Rawalpindi for three years. I witnessed from a close range manipulations of military rule, domestically and internationally, to suit one persons self sustenance. Nizam-e-Zakat and Nizama-e-Salat was introduced superficially. Referendum was conducted in the name of Islam but actually to legitimize Zias rule. Popular political parties were crushed and mushroom parties were created. To fight the Russian occupation forces, the war was dubbed as Islamic Jihad. It was basically geopolitics and cold war dynamics. We were holier than the Pope and fought Charlie Wilsons War with our blood and toil, the consequences of which are still being reaped by us.

The point I wish to make it is that while on the one hand Army should lay off, on the other hand political leaders should also stay away from the military. Government should meet militarys legitimate needs in line with the political policy and defence strategy. It is the function of the Government to evolve national policy encompassing and governing all elements of national power of which military is only one of many albeit important components.

That is the theory and it looks good on paper. What is happening in reality? Government today is seen as very weak, inept, corrupt and extremely inefficient and perhaps living in illusionary world. Opposition is equally fragmented, rudderless and megalomaniac. Institutions are on the war path. The sole sufferers are the people of Pakistan who are confronted with one catastrophe after another. Extremism, militancy, terrorism, ethnic and sectarian violence, poverty, natural disasters and man made miseries all are pointing towards a real and present danger of imminent anarchy, something I dread and shudder to even think of. Anarchy in Pakistan will be chaotic as there is no alternative rallying force.

Is there an option? Yes. There is. If we are destined to persevere, let us give it a sincere try. History is full of lost civilizations. In our own lifetime we have seen an empire disappear. It is not Pakistans birthright to last till the Day of Judgment. Let us go down fighting if we have to. But I believe we can turn the corner. It is still not too late. Army should stay away and is doing it admirably well. Judiciary should do its job and is by and large doing fine. Political leaders and peoples elected representatives should sit down together. They should freeze their differences for the time being. After all, they carry the burden of their electorate and we must respect that. Even my batman may not vote for me so how can I or my types be cynical of our politicians. But when they sit down they should, for an agreed period, say 4 or 5 years, form a national government of very limited but highly efficient, honest and committed persons at national and all the provinces level.

There is no dearth of good people amongst them. What else is the government of technocrats? Trust me that will not work. One can find equally suitable persons amongst the existing parliamentarians as one would from outside who have no stakes and responsibility towards masses. Once such a Government is formed it must act boldly and perform without fear or favour, with utmost sincerity, honesty, diligence, discipline, decisiveness and cost efficient manner setting personal example of integrity, moral courage, simplicity and commitment, all of which do not require any funds or IMF loan. All they need is will and determination to formulate and implement policies which they very well know. The option I have suggested here avoids armys role, judicial activism, technocrats government and above all looming anarchy.

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