A Statement of Proportion


The COAS’s Statement


Amid rising calls for curbing corruption around the world and just prior to the Prime Minister returning home, the Chief of Army Staff, General Raheel Sharif issued a statement linking the eradication of corruption with defeating terrorism. The resulting hue and cry from various media outlets which often sensationalize the palpable civil- military disconnect in Pakistani affairs, will not detract from the fact that the timing of this statement has raised quite a few eyebrows and for good reason.

Corruption is not a new phenomenon in Pakistan and less so for the world. The Panama Leaks and the disclosures buttress the long stood argument championed by intellectuals that the world’s rich exploit lax laws to expand their financial clout, particularly in countries where the citizenry is often deprived of basic services such as access to clean drinking water or shelter. It is within this context that the COA’s statement gains relevance where the disclosures from the Panama leaks, the inability of the current government to live up to its electoral promises and the dysfunctional nature of the state is a reality that that common man has to deal with. Whether or not the establishment is cashing on this vacuum could be anyone’s guess

Yet what is undeniable is the fact that the PML N’s counterparts in uniform have outperformed them as far as securing national security and eradicating terrorism is concerned. The inability to deal with chronic energy shortages and boost the national economy resulting in a trickledown effect on the poor and the downtrodden and the Panama Leaks which highlight their offshore holdings has dampened the PML N in front of the very same public which voted them into power. If weighed properly, the establishment has secured points both morally and physically, where Raheel Sharif’s tenure as the instigator of eradicating terror has elevated him to the stature of a guardian of national sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Lack of assertiveness as far as foreign policy issues are concerned has also had a bearing on the PML N. The aggressive posturing over issue such as internal and regional security also goes to General Raheel’s credit, where raking up the RAW issue with Iran’s Hasan Rouhani and warnings directed at India for fomenting discord inside Pakistan stands in stark contrast to how the PML N has approached two of its neighbors where security issues have been flashpoints. Examples such as the PML N’s history during their third term where attending the inauguration of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in India, the Ufa statement failing to mention Kashmir as more than ‘all outstanding issues’ between India and Pakistan and the constant denials over militancy in Punjab has contributed to the rising stature of the Army chief as compared to his civilian counterparts.

As for his statement, there is little doubt that corruption and terrorism have toxic connection where misappropriation of funds and diversion of resources to rogue elements have undoubtedly contributed towards the rise and potency of NSAs and terrorist groups across the world. The breakdown of law and order can also be attributed to corruption resulting in a vacuum for rogue elements to thrive in where the Chotu Gang’s ferocity is case in point. While not quite a terrorist organization, the central government’s inability to devise a coherent anti-terrorism policy which seeks to eradicate networks at the grassroots level can also be attributed to corruption and incompetence which often go hand in hand with breeding extremism. For the PML N, catering towards the commercial community in Pakistan at the expense of developing policies which guarantee the security of the state is precisely what the government has done, despite revamping infrastructure and championing achievements such as CPEC. Guaranteeing national security for the prosperity of all or guaranteeing an environment conducive to economic progress goes solely to the credit of the men in uniform with the COAs in charge, at the expense of those who are elected into power and are supposed to devise strategies which promote the welfare and security of the society.

Thus the statement from the COAs can be considered as one of considerable proportion and for many, it was for good reason too.


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