The equation: No army, no country


Unavoidable equation whether you like it or not


The great victor of the Crusades Salahuddin Ayyubi famously said, “The best way to destroy a country is to make its people disenchanted with their army.”


No country; no Asif Zardari. No Asif Zardari, country remains.

No country, no Nawaz Sharif. No Nawaz Sharif, country remains.

No country, no constitution. No constitution, the country remains to craft a new and better one.

No country, no judiciary. No judiciary, no country.

No country, no army. No army, no country.

That is the unavoidable equation whether you like it or not. It’s as simple as that. So those who try to degrade their army are wittingly or unwittingly committing high treason.

Don’t fall for the rants of politicians with grudges, large parts of the not-so-independent media, disgruntled, frustrated retired military officers with axes to grind, bureaucrats and judges become holier than thou after retirement having done their considerable bit to prop up civilian and military dictators, limited half-baked lawyers, witless analysts egged on by semi-educated anchors trying to improve their ratings. They are doing the army down not realising that they are weakening the State. They should think again. No one questions their patriotism, but one certainly questions their wisdom. No one says that the army – or any institution for that matter – should be allowed to run rampant. It should remain in its domain, but you cannot weaken and trash it simply because its domain includes saving the country from external and internal enemies. If ‘elected’ governments did their duties diligently, honestly and efficiently and within the law, so would the army. Nothing weakens and destroys an army more than having to run the country with absolute power. A government’s best policy should be to rule well and not give the army any reason to transgress. Will they understand? They have not in 67 years. Little chance they will understand now. They don’t even understand the hard way.

Our rulers don’t understand democracy or rule of law. They don’t understand that God’s vicegerents the people are the repository of secular power, not this government or that. Getting elected doesn’t mean the country becomes your fief and you its overlord to do with as you please and go on a looting, lying spree. The moment a government deviates from its mandate it loses legitimacy.

It is obvious that Nawaz Sharif and his merry gang on their third roller coaster ride are trying to ridicule and weaken the army so that it doesn’t topple his government again. He should realise that precisely by lambasting the army he could cause another intervention of some kind. The best way to prevent a coup is by ruling well, which means giving the people what they want and addressing their most pressing needs. Fed up of the propaganda against the army and the lunatic ranting and raving of certain puppet ministers who speak the language of their ventriloquist, Army Chief General Raheel fired a warning shot across Nawaz Sharif’s bow last week and said that the army would never allow its respect and prestige to be compromised. This was reiterated in the corps commanders’ meeting a few days later. Sharif needs to back off. Three of his ministers are raining down such poisonous invective on the army that one is left wondering: “Are these suicidal idiots brain damaged?” To be fair, they are not, for you have to have a brain first to damage. They are brainless. The collective IQ of Nawaz Sharif’s Kashmiri gang wouldn’t challenge an untrained ape.

Can you imagine the defence minister running down the army that is under him in vile language and tone? These fellows all have large question marks over the manner in which they were elected given the accusations of massive rigging that took place in their constituencies, some of which we have seen. Now the defence minister bleats after General Raheel’s statement that he made the speech in 2006. So what? Even so, should such a man be a minister, let alone defence minister? The events of October 12, 1999, which forced the army to launch a countercoup, were triggered off by the illegal and childish acts against the army by then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on a suicidal spree. It is not a question of a general taking over willy-nilly. It is a question of illegally pushing the army against a wall and creating conditions for intervention. A cornered tiger knows only one thing: to attack back.

I am not in favour of the army running the government. For one, it is bad for the army and the country. The ongoing political process never gets going and the people’s learning process gets aborted. The army gets distracted from its prime function of protecting the country against enemies within and without. The discipline of soldiers and the officer corps gets compromised when exposed to civilian life with its corruption what with the power they hold, their word law, which is bad for any human being leave alone a disciplined force charged with doing one of the two most important duties there are: to protect the country’s integrity along with a balanced and functioning judiciary to ensure equity and justice. Political power coupled with exposure to business interests breeds corruption. They get greedy, “fat and flabby”, losing the stomach for a fight and gaining a stomach for the fat of the land. Like politicians, the army too does not have solutions to Pakistan’s multifarious fundamental and structural problems.

Our rulers don’t understand democracy or rule of law. They don’t understand that God’s vicegerents the people are the repository of secular power, not this government or that. Getting elected doesn’t mean the country becomes your fief and you its overlord to do with as you please and go on a looting, lying spree.

The army is angry – and getting angrier – because of:

1. Government’s attempts to ridicule and weaken it to prevent another intervention. I have talked about that.

2. Talks with the Taliban whom they rightly see as enemies of Pakistan because they don’t accept its State structure and basic law.

3. Legitimising these cowardly terrorists by calling them “stakeholders” and “sulking compatriots” and negotiating with them from a position of weakness is tantamount to surrender.

4. The killing of over 55,000 innocent civilians including 7,000 army and security personnel – and counting. Not so long ago they trussed up 23 soldiers and slaughtered them like goats by slitting their throats and released videos of these dastardly acts.

5. As against this, the government releases numerous Taliban terrorists without reference to the army while getting nothing in return except a few days extension in the illusory ceasefire. The Taliban released not one of the innocent people they have kidnapped.

6. Calling the released Taliban “non-combatants”. Why, only last week after the release of these terrorists around 30 people were slaughtered in Sibi, a train bombing killed 17, a bomb in Islamabad killed 24 and injured over 100 and the same day there were 11 target killings in Karachi. Terrorism goes on daily. Is this what the government calls ceasefire?

7. No, says the government disingenuously, by negotiating we are sifting the ‘good’ Taliban from the ‘bad’. The good Taliban have announced ‘ceasefire’, the ‘bad’ Taliban and Pakistan’s enemies abroad are causing these terrorist acts to derail the negotiations. Give us a break. Is there such a thing as a good cobra? A cobra is a cobra, whether it is a White or a Green Mamba. There is only one thing to do with a cobra.

8. In any case, even if there is a ‘deal’ with the ‘good’ Taliban, the ‘bad’ Taliban will continue with their terrorist rampage. So what’s the difference? Terrorists are terrorists, not ‘good’ and ‘bad’. There’s only one thing to do with terrorists.

9. The vengeful injustice being meted out to General Pervez Musharraf to do the army down under the delusion that then the generals will be so frightened of the politicians and of Article 6 of the constitution that they would never dare intervene again. They still don’t understand that soldiers are sworn to protect the country first; the constitution comes later. If you want the constitution respected, first respect it yourself. If the constitution is endangering the State by breeding a political system that is geared to only throw up bad and corrupt governments, should the protectors of the State let it perish while bravely upholding a constitution with questionable legitimacy?

10. Breaking promises with the army chief, which is typical Nawaz Sharif.

I can go on, but why bother? One is fed up of stating the obvious. Those who cannot see will never see, no matter what.

Unfairly gunning for the army will only bring grief to the politicians and to us the people. Negotiating with the Taliban will bring even more grief. They will extract as much as they can from the government without giving anything substantial in return. Already having got some of their fellow terrorists released, they will get more. When it is over the Taliban will have gained a lot without laying down arms, accepting the State and its law and giving up their evil ways. You cannot ever get reason from zealots. You think you are using them while they are actually making an ass of you and using you to achieve their objectives, after which they will show you the door. When negotiations fail, wait for the inevitable blowback that will rock the big cities of Pakistan, especially in Nawaz Sharif’s only stronghold, Lahore and central Punjab. Don’t feel sorry for us Punjabis, we have brought it upon ourselves. It will end in tears.

The army should understand its part in bringing Pakistan to its knees. Our politicians of the last 50 years are all products of army rule, not of a healthy political process. It doesn’t take them long to turn on their fathers and forget their political pedigree. That is where I hold the army culpable. Stop it and let the natural political process produce politicians and leaders from bottom up. Politicians produced by the army become bad clones of generals. One can never escape one’s paternity.


  1. Thank you. Ghalib wrote that long time ago. Ya rab woh na samjhen hein, na smjhen ge meri baat (God, they never understaood & they will not understand). Nothing is new under the blue skies.

  2. The statement made by Mr Khawaja Asif during the budget session in the National Assembly in June 2006 was the grievance & torture Mr Khawaja Asif had suffered in the hands of a few cronies of Musharraf.

    His statement was against a handful of Generals (including Musharraf) who had looted (NLC, Railway, DHA) and ruined the country but nobody could dare speak up!

  3. No army, no country? I don't agree with that. A lot many countries around the world employ a small army as they don't have wars or interference in neighbors affairs as their agenda. Pakistan inherited 1/3rd of British India army although it's population was less than 1/8th of undivided India. This is the reason army has always dominated in politics scaring it's nationals with "So-called" threats from India.

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