At war with oneself


The details regarding the attack on the PNS Mehran base are splattered all over the media. Pakistan’s defence forces are in a bit of a tight spot. We need to encourage them and not put them down further. Their mistakes are many. But the time for criticism was when these mistakes were being made. I am surprised that the sycophants who spent their time in power buttering up generals and begging them are now the vanguard of its critics. When Yahya Khan, Zia-ul-Haq and Pervez Musharraf were in power, nobody dared opened their mouth in front of them. Many were in fact eulogisers. I, poor mortal, also had to face the dictatorial wrath of these three generals. Not many journalists can claim to have been the first target of the benevolent gaze of each of these dictators once they came into power.

Yahya filed a case on me under clause 16-A of the martial law and had me rot in the veranda of People’s House Lahore (where the proceedings of the martial law courts were held) for days on end. Zia-ul-Haq threw me in such a dungeon that the floor was a bed of piercing pebbles for seven days; it felt like I was in paradise when I was shifted to Kot Lakhpat after those seven days. Whereas Zia-ul-Haq claimed that I would be hanged upside down from a tree, Pervez Musharraf chose the PM house as the place for my sequestration. I went there on 12th October to make some changes in the PM’s speech. I had to spend 20 days in the drawing room. These military governments have subjected me to many ignominies. I haven’t forgotten them. But I’ve always kept an important distinction in mind: when the army has defended the country, I have nothing but tributes to give to it; it was the object of my criticism only when it meddled in politics.

The fact that the politicos and media persons fed and patronised by the Army are now its most vociferous critics should be lesson enough for the generals that politics and media gaming are not for them. If the army had restricted itself to its professional duties, nobody would have dared point a finger at it. All the censure being thrown around these days is the result of the political role of past generals. Recently turned critics are striking while the iron is hot for trying to avenge their fecklessness in the face of those generals.

This is not the time to settle scores. Pakistan is facing very real dangers. The institutions of our army are now the prime target of terrorists. But all and sundry are hell bent on evening the count with the army. Why were those who remember currying favours from the army in the form of bakeries, wedding halls, trading factories, free bungalows, and free agricultural acres silent when all of this was taking place? It wasn’t a while ago when Ayesha Siddiqa couldn’t find a place to launch her book about the non-military activities of the army. That was the time when one couldn’t find many to publish their views. Contrast that with now when one is hard pressed to find someone who is not talking against the army.

The way our foolhardy generals and politicians gave the country to the US on a platter was a basic and historic mistake. They did not realise that a superpower is much more ruthless and bloodthirsty than an enemy neighbour of the same pedigree. It isn’t concerned with the travails of those that feed off its aid. All it cares about is their geo-strategic importance and using their resources. It doesn’t care what happens to the dependant country in the process. We threw ourselves to the lions in the process of saving ourselves from the wolves. Pakistan has been pushed into this state by the US through its acolyte generals. Our society was destroyed through Zia as the cancerous problems of violence, corruption, drugs, arms, occupation of land, crime and smuggling spread throughout: it was like a rot to the core.

The last stage of destruction was led to completion by General Pervez Musharraf which left us at a virtual cul-de-sac. The nuclear power, gaining of which led to Pakistan and India deciding to solve the Kashmir issue, is now a burden to bear for us. And that for the sole reason that Pervez Musharraf closed all doors to reconciliation by covertly initiating the Kargil operation. Terrorists are now the boulet of Pakistan. None of our cities, institution or sensitive installments is off-limits for terrorists.

Our generals thought that we could fool America and also take their dollars. But there is one rule of engagement with a superpower: Don’t have close relations with one and if you do, then don’t try to trick it. Henry Kissinger once famously quipped that it is more dangerous being America’s ally than its enemy. What General Musharraf did, and what later became a policy, was nothing but chicanery with the US. Now a wrathful US wants its pound of flesh. The conciliatory statements that emanate from US officials are mere emollients. Even if relations with the US are restored fully, will the army be able to reverse the damage done to its public image? The mistrust between the public and army has been created by the US which is also taking steps to prove that our defence capabilities are ineffectual.

No war has impacted the image of the army the way the attack on the GHQ, the Abbottabad operation and the Mehran base attack have. The more Pak-US relation improve, the more the army will move away from the public. We are now stuck badly. America’s good favour is also trouble for us and its enmity is also nothing but trouble. The only option for us is to begin with a clean slate and work to formulate a joint policy. Right now, we are self-devouring our own organs. In such a case, you don’t need an enemy. The humiliation we are being subjected to in the American media and political circles would be enough to shame anybody. Satirical talk shows are saying that a ladder is enough to penetrate sensitive areas in Pakistan and if you want to access the nuclear arsenal, then you need merely a donkey cart in addition to a ladder!

To conclude, I would like to present the gist of what an American analyst said about us: “The army itself is targeting its own institutions, that it played gracious host to OBL, the politicians over there support the terrorists that blow innocent people to smithereens, that the army doesn’t trust the politicians, the politicians don’t trust the army and they engage in trickery with each other. The media is at the forefront of misguiding people. Despite this, this country is surviving. We Trust in God”


The writer is one of Pakistan’s most widely read columnists.



  1. He changes his colors and opinions with every new wind that blows from President House or ' royal kursi'-even 'girgit' would feel small.

  2. well done nagi sb.
    a very sound and seriously needed piece of advice to the khaki boys.
    mend your ways,respect the country you feed off…infact overfeed off.
    do your job with honesty and get back to the barracks.
    the sooner the better.
    please remember the oath you took before becoming soldiers (of fortune).youre just here to protect the country, not play these dirty games with the people of pakistan.

  3. I am told there were 15 shadi-ghars in the PNS mehran. One big city school on the base and a complete housing society. I don't believe "they" are in a b it of a spot. This plot plot game must come to an end. No more plots for sarkari types. No more "stealth" sales of sarkari land.

  4. PNS Mehran attack is a failure of defense institutions. Another atrocity on Muslims, yet the Muslim majority goes silent. No matter what happens, the Pakistan defense authorities will be blamed. Despite our serious efforts to protect the country, we cannot bend the will of the terrorists. We must understand this reality that Pakistan is under serious threats from its enemies. Such attacks are highly embarrassing and cannot be taken lightly. These terrorists are well trained and not bound by any law or border. They are desperate and they want to challenge and demoralize the security forces. The enemy of the states has hijacked Pakistan using strategically the phantom of Taliban. It is stated that there is an insider job in the whole plot of PNS Mehran storm. Pakistan’s immature media anchors and opportunist politicians need to understand the new game plan. This involves tarnishing the image of Pakistan’s military in order to destabilize and eventually disintegrate the country for a larger scheme of reshaping the world to the advantage of the sole super power.
    Read More About failure of Pakistani defense institution here

  5. Such information not one Naji but every one is giving alongside 'advice.This the mockery.Our writers with exception want to saint when the catastrophe has happened or passed.

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