It is so saddening and disheartening to note that disharmony and discord between the state institutions, when domestically the nation is being tormented by unrelenting extremism, and externally powerful forces are looking at it maliciously and viciously. The perception has gained currency that India, Israel, Britain and the US have coalesced to weaken and destabilize Pakistan, and some Pakistanis are in league with them to advance their agenda. They are trying to demonize Pakistan military and bring Pakistan’s premier agency Inter Services Intelligence into disrepute.
The two episodes - Abbottabad and Mehran base - occurring in quick succession in May 2011 were part of the sinister design to paint the military and intelligence agencies in poor light, and demoralize the nation. Whereas the nation has expressed its resolve to stand by the armed forces after NATO’s attack on Salala border posts, some unconscionable elements are criticizing the military and the ISI in one way or another. Some palmed-off mandarins, media men and members of civil society are suffering from the virulent form of unpatriotism, and are on a self-destruct course.
One journalist and human rights activist in her twitter stated: “It gets more and more ridiculous – we should petition the Chief Justice of Pakistan to take suo motu notice of ISI for a threat to Pakistan”. Another anchorperson in a blog said: “What a good idea we should draft an alternative petition signed by 100 prominent citizens and send to Chief Justice of Pakistan as soon as possible”. Though an extensive quote is not desirable, but it is important to show connect between the detractors of Pakistan and the aliens. Asian Human Rights Commission in its urgent appeals program has circulated a letter asking the people to take up the matter with the ‘concerned authorities’ (means Chief Justice of Pakistan), and send the copy to President, Prime Minister, Law Minister, Human Rights Minister and Registrar Supreme Court etc. The subject of the appeal is ‘Pakistan: The head of the ISI must be prosecuted for hatching conspiracy against democracy”, which is self-explanatory. It added that “General Pasha's actions are tantamount to High Treason under Article 6 of the Constitution”.
Since the matter of ‘Memo’, purported to have been dictated by former ambassador to the US, Hussain Haqqani and written and forwarded by Mansoor Ijaz to Mike Mullen, is subjuidice, we would not speculate or comment and leave it to the judgment of the full bench of the Supreme Court to find out if it was Hussain Haqqani’s initiative or it was on somebody else’s behest. There could also be an international intrigue to pitch the pillars of the state against one another, and create turmoil in the country. However, it has to be said that Lt. General Pasha had tried to unearth the conspiracy to harm Pakistan, but detractors of Pakistan have started propaganda against Pakistan’s military and the ISI. One would not buy the argument or conjecture that Pakistan military was on the verge of overthrowing the government or promulgating Martial Law, because there have been more than one occasions like the standoff between the government and the judiciary, but military tried to forge unity in the ranks of the ruling and the opposition parties.
What pity that we have to endure inept leaders who lack vision and instead of appealing to their cerebral clarity they resort to visceral instincts. One of the head honcho of a major political party said the other day that “any role for the Army in political affairs was totally unacceptable”. There is much brouhaha over military’s inputs for formulating security policy and foreign policy in Pakistan. It should be borne in mind that foreign policy is interlinked directly or indirectly with the security policy of the country. They should recall when US President Barack Obama compelled by the circumstances and financial crunch had to draw down from Afghanistan, his generals wanted him to go for a big surge. In order to exert pressure on him, they were making pleas in public seminars and conferences at home and abroad. It was in this backdrop that then US defence secretary Robert Gates admonished them publicly that after having made out their case to the president they must let him decide the surge.
Even now, state department is for a conciliatory approach towards Pakistan while the defence department and the CIA are poised for a hard line; they also hint that they are in for a long haul in Afghanistan. True enough, in a democratic dispensation, military leadership has to obey the orders of the elected government, but it has to be borne in mind that throughout the world, governments act on the advice of military so far as matters relating to national security are concerned. So, whether somebody likes it or not, military has role though in an advisory capacity. In Pakistan the question is often raised whether the military leadership has the right to give its assessment of threats to internal and external security? There is no denying that all countries of the world have professional armies to protect their borders, and also to ensure law and order internally. It is indeed the responsibility of the government to establish the writ of the state and protect the lives and properties of the people. But how that objective is achieved? Of course, it is achieved through the security personnel.
In the US, Britain and even in India - arguably the largest democracy in the world - political leaderships take decisions on the basis of the information provided by intelligence agencies and advice of military leadership. It is matter of record that Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had in principle agreed to withdraw from Siachen and agreement to that effect was about to be inked when the army prevailed upon the prime minister and convinced him that India would lose strategic advantage by withdrawing from Siachen, and Indian forces would be vulnerable. In 2006, the then Indian Army Chief of Army Staff, General JJ Singh had expressed concern stating: “We have conveyed our concerns and views to the government and we expect that the composite dialogue between the two countries will take care of all these concerns”. US and NATO’s Admirals and Generals often address press conferences, issue statements and warn their governments of the consequences of flawed decisions.
Former General McChrystal had rejected calls for the war effort to be scaled down from defeating the Taliban insurgency to a narrower focus on hunting down Al Qaeda, as suggested by Vice President Joe Biden. He had rejected proposals to switch to a strategy more reliant on drone missile strikes and Special Forces operations against Al Qaeda. He had gone to the extent of saying that the formula, which is favoured by Vice-President Joe Biden, would lead to "Chaos-istan". Some British generals are also known for their candid remarks. In 2006, a blistering assessment of British policy in Iraq from the country's top soldier General Sir Richard Dannatt had left Tony Blair reeling when he said that troops should come home within two years - contradicting the then Prime Minister's policy that the military will stay “as long as it takes”. In unprecedented comments, he had warned that the army could 'break' if British soldiers are kept too long in Iraq. Pakistani ruling elite - both sides of the divide - and media gurus should stop vituperations against the army as by doing so they will be shooting in their foot.