Demoralizing Armed Forces of Pakistan
By Sajjad Shaukat
Pakistan’s armed forces have been coping with internal and external challenges of grave nature in order to maintain the security of the country. Externally, these forces have equally been responding to India’s aggression at the Line of Control (LoC). Recently, tension between India and Pakistan has accelerated, as the former set off a series of unprovoked cross-border firings at the LoC. So far, Indian forces have killed some personnel of Pak Army, and the paramilitary troops including one captain and several innocent civilians. But every time, Indian guns became silent when Pak Army responded with equal response for the defense of the country.
Internally, armed forces have also been fighting a different war of the enemy which employs subversive activities of various kinds such as suicide attacks, targeted killings, assaults on the Army and on security agencies, kidnappings and sectarian violence etc. In this regard, militant outfits, especially Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) including other banned organizations have claimed responsibility for a number of terror-attacks. Karachi, Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa and Balochistan have become special targets of their acts of sabotage.
Unlike the past wars, the arena of war has changed. In the ongoing era, lethal weapons and subversive tactics used by the terrorists can be more harmful in damaging the interest of a rival country. As part of the new warfare, India has set up secret training centers in Afghanistan where its military personnel in connivance with Israeli RAW and CIA have been imparting training of guerilla warfare to the youngsters, having connections with South Waziristan-based TTP and BLA. Based in Afghanistan, these anti-Pakistan agencies send heavily-armed militants who not only target the outposts of Pak Army, but also commit various sorts of terror-activities in order to destabilize Pakistan. In the recent years, they have conducted high profile-terror attacks on the military installations, while our armed forces have been encountering them with high morale. Pak Army has continued fighting terrorists in wake of brutal tactics of the militants like beheading of our soldiers.
Notably, on September 15, this year, Maj-Gen. Sanaullah Khan including a lieutenant colonel and a soldier were killed in a landmine attack in Upper Dir. TTP spokesman claimed responsibility in this regard. In response to terrorist act, Chief of Army Staff, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani said on September 16, that no one should have any misgivings that the Pakistan Army would let terrorists coerce them into accepting their terms through peace process. He clarified that the Pakistan Army had the capability and determination to fight terrorists. He also reiterated Pakistan Army’s resolve and unflinching commitment in fighting the menace of terrorism in accordance with the will of the nation at any cost.
Particularly, in Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa and Balochistan, personal of the Pak Army are boldly facing ambush assaults, and targeted killings of the foreign-supported militants. So far, more than 3000 soldiers have become martyrs in this different war in maintaining the integrity of the federation.
But, it is regrettable that by showing unrealistic approach, Pakistan’s media, some pseudo-intellectuals and political activists have started a deliberate campaign against Pak Army. In this context, without knowing reality, and by taking advantage of the judicial activism, our own media anchors and some internal entities have manipulated various cases like memogate scandal and Mehrangate issue and case of the missing persons. In this context, let us know the example of the missing persons—a majority of these people include those people who were either kidnapped or killed by foreign-affiliated secret agents and their backed-insurgent groups. In this connection, militant outfits, TTP and BLA including other banned militant groups have claimed responsibility for a number of acts of sabotage in various places of the country. Many of the disappeared persons also went to Afghanistan for Jehad purposes, while some of them joined the Jehadi groups inside Pakistan. But these entities left no stone unturned in implicating Pak Army for extrajudicial killings, resulting into missing persons.
While speaking in the tone of anti-Pakistan elements, our media, particularly most of the TV channels have ignored the sacrifices of Pakistan’s armed forces regarding the security of the country and against terrorism. Biased attitude of the so-called media commentators and journalists have not only been trying to demoralize the armed forces by undermining their fighting spirit, but have also been misguiding the general masses, while setting aside the services of these forces in the country.
No doubt, Pakistani armed forces have been the redeeming saviors of nation under all circumstances. They are prepared to defend Pakistan’s frontiers and always reach out to all citizens of Pakistan during catastrophic period especially when the nation is hit by floods, earthquakes and natural calamities. Every year, when rainy season comes, people look towards army soldiers who remain on rescue missions to save their lives and property.
Unfortunately, it is due to a wave of ‘pessimistic emotionalism’ instigated by the negative media criticism, pseudo-intellectuals and political activists—stereotypes and prejudices have been created by them against the armed forces in such a way that the people should set aside innumerable services and sacrifices of the armed forces, as noted in relation to the Swat and Malakand military operations—resettlement of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), floods, desilting of canals (Bhal Safai)—particularly during the Earthquake of 2005, entailing restoration of law and order on many occasions. In the recent past, armed forces were in the frontline for people-salvage from areas of earthquake which hit Balochistan.
During the recent floods, the emotional episodes and heart-shaking stories, covering tragic scenes of rescue missions undertaken by troops of Pak Army are still haunting us all. Since the independence of Pakistan, military personnel saved the countless helpless people by sacrificing their own lives.
It is mentionable that during the previous regime of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, WAPDA was going to be bankrupted, and he had invited the army to manage its affairs. By collecting the electricity bills impartially, even from the influential persons, army’s personnel had saved WAPDA from bankruptcy.
Similarly, army is called in aid of civil power to conduct counter-insurgency operations and maintain order. Countless nation-building projects undertaken by the armed forces speak of their commitment and devotion towards national cause and sense of duty. Soldiers have done great service in the uplift of people of Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa, Balochistan, Gigit-Baltistan, and other far-flung areas of Pakistan by completing development works well in time. They deserve appreciation for all these good deeds.
It notable that in his book, “Fighting Power: German and US Army Performance, 1939-1945”, Creveld identifies the elements of moral force, whom he calls “fighting power, the willingness to fight and the readiness, if necessary, to die.” The greater these elements, the less vulnerable an armed force will be to demoralization. So, moral force is critical in determining the combat power of any belligerent. No doubt, these elements like will to fight and moral force have been more found in Pakistani armed forces.
As regards the media criticism, it is easier to engage in a censure and a disparaging discussion, while sitting in a cool-air-conditioned environment away from operational areas where bullet, bombs, rockets, suicidal attacks and terrorists dictate the rules of business, but to actually participate in such operations demands strong mettle. Our soldiers can face the enemy under adverse environment, but they cannot digest the comments directed against them by their own media anchors and writers.
So, instead of discouraging our armed forces through false propaganda, our media and other similar entities must encourage these soldiers who are actively engaged in fighting the war against terrorism. Media must itself realize and also provide true information to the general masses. Their anchors and commentators must indicate that while facing the enemy along borders, our soldiers are committed in counter-insurgency operations, fighting the menace of terrorism—and engaged in rescue missions like flood relief and earthquake-salvage duties. Thus, they are doing a great service to the nation. They deserve admiration and the nation must not hesitate in boosting their morale by encouraging them. In this respect, positive media projections will enable the armed forces to maintain their real potential and deliver at an opportune time. Otherwise, negative criticism will help the enemy to achieve its goals of demoralizing our armed forces and reducing the combat efficiency of the soldiers.
Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations