Warping General Kayani’s speech
Mohammad Jamil


Honest appraisal and dispassionate analysis of events from commentriat is indeed appreciable; but distorting the facts, warping the statements of heads of the institutions and giving them a twist is condemnable. In entrenched democracies like America and European countries, a very few of writers and media men oppose the national cause; however in Pakistan palmed-off writers and politicos resort to scathing criticism of the heads of the institutions and organs of the state with impunity. Nowhere in the world media men, intellectuals and writers denigrate their military the way it is done in Pakistan by some unconscionable elements. Some column writers of a few English dailies relish Pakistan-bashing, and resort to scathing criticism of heads of the institutions and organs of the state. Khaled Ahmad in his article carried by ‘Friday’ Times under the caption ‘General Kayani’s Troubled Journey’ discussed General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani’s address at Kakul on Independence Day.

Though General Kayani’s speech has been appreciated by a great majority of the people and described by many as candid, yet Khaled Ahmed’s comments about General Kayani’s resolve to fight extremism and terrorism were preposterous. One would not have seen such a blistering attack on a serving COAS. The author went on to write: “It is clear that he is the most powerful man in Pakistan leading an institution that dominates the political system as well…The three pillars of the state obey the invisible single pillar, the Army, either openly or furtively, and pitch their politics on the premise of the dominance of the Army”. It is true that people of Pakistan hold military in very high esteem, and appreciate General Kayani’s conduct and his role in support of democracy. The fact of the matter is that before February 2008 elections, General Kayani had issued instructions that military should not take sides and remain neutral. He had withdrawn from civil departments almost all military officers that were on deputation.

However, within months after the elections, the Legislative, Executive and Judiciary remained involved in ‘turf wars’, every pillar of the state trying to assert its position and prove that it is supreme. Of course, military had to play the role of a mediator to ward off any untoward incident, head on collision and anarchy during movement for restoration of judiciary. Khaled Ahmad concluded his article by creating hypothetical scenario whereby General Kayani could be tried: “The charges could be as follows: 1) Trial and release of Raymond Davis; 2) Participation in the Memo gate trial; 3) Harassment of American diplomats in Pakistan; 3) Reacting with rage to the killing of Osama bin Laden; 4) Sheltering the Haqqani network; 5) Pursuing strategic depth in Afghanistan; 6) After the Salala incident, blocking the NATO supply route; 7) Not leashing the proxy warriors nurtured by the Army after their alliance with Al Qaeda; 8) Not leashing ISI chief General Pasha; 9) Unleashing Defence of Pakistan’s non-state actors on a much weakened political system”.

After mischievous propaganda by some political segments about purported joint operation against terrorists, there were hostile outpourings that it was not our war; and army chief Ashfaq Pervez Kayani then himself had to set the record straight by categorically stating that “it is our war”. As the army chief put it so succinctly in his Kakul azadi parade address, no army can succeed in its mission without the people on its back. Of course, military has unqualified support from the people of Pakistan, but some politicos, commentriat, analysts and panelists continue military bashing for no reason or rhyme. Unfortunately, some of our intelligentsia, media men, commentriat and analysts have the penchant for denigrating armed forces. Private TV channels provide the platform to the elements that project military action against the Taliban as a proxy war fought on behalf of the Americans; thus glorifying terrorists, and demoralizing the security personnel fighting the terrorists.

Khalid Ahmed has also written another article in Daily Times captioned ‘General Kayani’s war’, in which he has tried to disgrace Pakistan military and resorted to unwarranted criticism by distorting the statement of General Kayani. In this article, he wrote: “Not only is the army openly in exclusive charge of country’s foreign and security policy, it is the real power in Pakistan behind the façade of democracy”. He recounted the Osama bin Laden episode, Salala incident and Raymond Davis case and described “General Kayani’s decisions as populist rather than realistic”. He accused the COAS for “letting the proxy warriors of the army flex their muscles even after solid evidence of their acts of terrorism outside Pakistan.” Without naming him, Khaled Ahmad is referring to Hafiz Saeed not realizing that the courts have absolved him as there was no evidence against him either in case of Mumbai blasts or any other act of terrorism. Will the apex court take a suo motu notice of these conjectures?

In April 2012, during hearing of a case at Quetta Registry regarding deteriorating law and order situation in Balochistan, Chief Justice of Pakistan had said: “Nobody would be allowed to malign judiciary and armed forces of the country”. Would the Chief Justice take action against those disgracing armed forces, and are responsible for creating despondency in the country? If such elements are allowed to poison the minds of the people against the institutions of the country, they can cause irreparable damage to the country. Many politicians, opinion leaders and so-called analysts criticise the war on terror as an action against our own people at the behest of the Americans. Of course, it was America’s war to start with, but over time it has become our war. It is time for all democratic forces to join ranks with civil society, build an across-the-board national consensus and take ownership of the war. In other words, War on Terror by Pakistan is a national effort and not the sole domain of Pak Army. Those elements blaming the Army, as an institution to have absolute control on its direction and conduct are highly spreading disinformation.