A vital tool in nation building
The Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif addressed the gathering and the nation on the annual Defence of Pakistan Day event at General Headquarters Rawalpindi. He said what the nation had been waiting to hear from their leaders — words to inspire confidence, words of reassurance and words to warn those who acted against Pakistan from within and without. He spoke with confidence because behind him was a wall of solid achievements built brick by brick over several years starting from the brilliantly conceived and implemented Swat operation that extended to Bajaur, South Waziristan and Mohmand and then the bold wide ranging Operation Zarb e Azb and its sequel Khyber III that decisively cleared the FATA area, and finally the ongoing Rangers operation in Sind and the combing operations elsewhere. His focus was unwaveringly on those who had laid down their lives for the nation in the wars with India and the operations against terror and among those listening to him were the veterans, the war wounded and the widows and the children of those martyred and injured.
The sadness that such events create dissipated as he listed the challenges to the country, the external and internal threats and the machinations of those who maligned the military and the intelligence agencies because these acted to safeguard national interests. What lifted spirits was his categorical assurance that “we will go to any extent to defend Pakistan”. He also spoke of the game changing China Pakistan Economic Corridor that in his words would be secured and implemented at any cost. His broad survey of the achievements, the challenges and the response to those challenges clearly highlighted the fact that he was fully informed, fully aware and totally clear on the dimensions of the task ahead and the steps needed to sustain and consolidate the gains made at enormous cost. Afghanistan was singled out for special mention as was Kashmir — Afghanistan for the potential for friendship and cooperation and Kashmir for support of those suffering unspeakable atrocities. There was no criticism — not of any individual, not of any institution and not of any country, no appeals, no long drawn out explanations — just plain speaking and plenty of it.
Inevitably the question arose — is this speech for posterity? It could well have been because it laid out his many achievements, spelt out the challenges that still existed, pointed out the policy thrusts that had to be maintained and indicated the broad strategic directions that had to be maintained at all costs. Leadership does not come from appointments or from positions of authority — it comes from professional competence, from sound decision making and sincerity to those one is privileged to lead. General Raheel Sharif excels in all these areas and he has the uncanny ability to be at the right place at the right time and to say what needs to be said just when and where it needs to be said. His speech on Defence of Pakistan Day 2016 proved this and inspired confidence, raised hopes– and inevitably expectations. The message was that Pakistan knows what it is up against, it knows what has to be done, it knows how to do it and it will do it.
(Spearhead Analyses are collaborative efforts and not attributable to a single individual)