Curbing Our Confrontational Instincts
Bassam Javed


Pakistan continues to remain beset with conspiracy theories every now and then. The latest being the exploitation of statements of the Chief of the Army Staff and the Chief Justice of Pakistan on private television channels. Both of statements called for the need to uphold the supremacy of law. The repeated talk shows conducted by the respective anchors on purely a non-issue however, twisted the spirit in which the two respective statements were made to paint scenarios reflecting imminent threat of some conflict between the two state institutions.

General Kayani formally addressed officers in his Headquarters on 5th of November delving on national issues bearing direct impact on the morale of the Army and its professional efficiency. The realistic concerns called our minds to heed to threats being generated by over zealous individuals and institutions potentially affecting not only the harmonious working between the state institutions but also the security of our nation. His concerns were straight forward, frank assessment of the current state of affairs in Pakistan and perturbation of an officer who is on oath to serve and defend Pakistan from various emanating threats. Since his own institution was under threat he had but all the right to express institutional concerns. On the same very day Chief Justice of Pakistan received an already scheduled mid-career civil servants’ delegation in the afternoon. Therein his address he also emphasized the need to follow the rule of law in earnest. The CJP was unaware of the contents of the speech of COAS when he talked to the visiting delegation since the contents of latter’s speech were released to the press at around 5 O’ clock by ISPR. Apparently, our media persons failed to comprehend the sequence of events and immediately ventured into running scrolls pointing to an impending conflict between the two institutions. Personal conjectures prevailed over logic and the channels projected a tit for tat duel between the army and the judiciary. Out of breath commentators and anchors failed to comprehend the gist of COAS address to army officers and CJP talks to the visiting delegation and in over excitement debated various scenarios with unfounded rift between the army and judiciary as their central theme.

The Army Chief’s address was plain, straight forward and was devoid of any threat to any of the state institutions. Neither did CJP’s address to the participants of National Management Course reflected that. In fact both the addresses reflected a thought process of two officers holding highest offices of their respective domains and centered around the national interest of Pakistan emphasizing constitutional supremacy in the country. There was no Greek in CJP’s assertion that tanks or missiles can in no way resurrect the perils confronting the country. He was very true in his overtures.

General Kayani was seemingly perturbed, as any army commander would be, on prevalent trends wherein the armed forces are regularly being targeted with negative aspersions. It is not only him but other army personnel are perturbed too on the slanderous campaign. If analyzed in true perspective his address went well on two counts! one; that it reassured his fellow officers and soldiers that their concerns are being given due credence and two; it went to remind decision makers of an existential threat confronting the country. The recent salvos launched by well known opportunists in the media over the institution of the army for individual misdoings by some senior officers have affected the moral of the armed forces. Is this being done under some organized agenda? One cannot be surprised as tools to accomplish various agendas are easily and cheaply available for sale in Pakistan. The three senior army officers who have been alleged to have committed financial irregularities while being in command of NLC and the three others for their alleged involvement in disposing off Railways’ lands at throw away prices, are retired since long. Whatever alleged follies conducted in the respective institutions under their command can in no way be exploited to castigate aspersions on the army as an institution. The FC saga in Supreme Courts hearings on missing persons and law and order in Baluchistan also led media to castigate aspersions on the army personnel and their institution some times giving an impression as if they belonged to some alien military force. Armed Forces have their own manuals of law which are governed under the constitution of Pakistan and cater for all acts of disorders and misconducts by their personnel. If the allegations are proved correct, the officers involved are dealt with according to those manuals.

The nation is concerned on an unrelenting media campaign carrying out a negative rhetoric on the institution of army. The routine bashing of the army is creating dents in our ranks and files fuelling poisonous tendencies and affecting democracy which is still in its infancy. In the process inter-institutional harmonious working is also being affected. The sooner we realize the fact the better it will be for development of Pakistan. This is the time when we should be supporting our valiant jawans and officers who continue to sacrifice their lives in fighting a war on terrorism and extremism for a better tomorrow for all of us and our future generations. Instead of trying to wedge differences between the institutions can we, for a change, give institutions their due respect especially the army for what it continues to do to secure the country in today’s extra ordinary times.