Disreputing the Key Institutions for Vote Bank
By Sajjad Shaukat
Scholars of international affairs agree that foreign affairs are too foreign to the citizens of a country. Prof. Hoslti opines that “issues and situations” have influence on public opinion, which in turn influences the objectives and actions. In these terms, Pakistan is facing multiple challenges, while Pakistan’s security forces and country’s intelligence agency, ISI have continuously been coping with a continued wave of suicide attacks coupled with intermittent battles with the militants in some tribal areas. In this context, more than five thousands military soldiers and a number of personnel of ISI have become martyrs in maintaining the integrity of the country.
But it is most regrettable that some political leaders and media anchors pick up some issue and leave no stone unturned in disreputing Pak Army and ISI. In this regard, Pakistan Peoples Party’s top leaders, without naming army or ISI, have presumed that there is a plot against their government through the memogate issue, while our media anchors have been propagating that a rift has occurred between the civil and military leadership. In this respect, on December 22, Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani, while hinting towards army and ISI, said that conspiracies were being hatched to topple the democratically elected government, and state within state would not be tolerated.
In the backdrop of Gilani’s caustic remarks, Chief of Army Staff Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani stated on December 23, “The Pakistan Army has and will continue to support democratic process in the country.” Gen. Kayani explained that the army was fully cognisant of its constitutional responsibilities, while dispelling the speculations of any military takeover, adding that these were being used to divert the focus from the real issues. He emphasised that the issues of national security need to be considered on merit alone, and there could be no compromise on the national security.
Surprisingly, some political leaders and members and media anchors have highly appreciated the statement of Gen. Kayani, while some have still maligned army and ISI. Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif strongly condemned the statements by the Pakistan People’s Party leadership against the army, pointing out that Pakistani rulers were talking in the idiom of the worst enemies of the country and were engaged in nefarious attempts to strengthen the hands of anti-Pakistan forces through baseless allegations.
Quite contrarily, The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz PML-N President, Nawaz Sharif allegedly, said on December 23 that he was ready for dialogue with other political parties for a permanent end to role of army and ISI in the affairs of government.
On December 19, both Prime Minister Gilani and Opposition Leader of the P M L (N) Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan stated that neither any undemocratic setup nor martial law would be accepted in the country. On December 15, Chaudhry Nisar and ANP parliamentarian Bushra Gohar demanded for resignation of the ISI chief over his alleged plot to oust the PPP government as alleged by Mansoor Ijaz who is the central character of the memo. On December 21, ISPR Spokesman Maj-Gen. Athar Abbas rejected this baseless report, portrayed in the British paper, The Independent on December 13, which blamed that DG ISI Lt. Gen. Pasha visited some Arab countries for permission to sack President Zardari.
In fact, either it is memogate case or any other issue, some Pakistan’s political parties disrepute country’s key security intuitions so as to increase their vote bank. In this respect, leader of the PML (N), Nawaz Sharif, Chairman of Tehreek-e-Insaf Imran Khan and leaders of Jamat-i-Islami have repeatedly been criticising the Pak Army and ISI.
In the last few years, failed in their misadventure, US top officials and their media have perennially been blaming Pak army and ISI in supporting the Afghan Taliban. In the recent past, US Admiral Mike Mullen (R) accused that the Haqqani network is waging a ‘proxy war’ in Afghanistan with the assistance of ISI. Some Indian rulers and Karzai-led puppet regime in Afghanistan also expressed similar views. As part of the foreign plot, Pakistan has become special target of the internal and external crises created by the United States, India and Israel through their secret agencies, CIA, RAW and Mossad which are in connivance to destabilize Pakistan as it is the only ‘nuclearsied’ country in the Islamic World. In this context, these agencies have been sending well-trained agents and militants in Pakistan, who commit various subversive acts in the country.
However, fault can not be found in country’s general masses who are mostly illiterate. So, it is our misfortune that the high officials of the US-led some countries and their media have created a hostile phenomenon in Pakistan by inciting the general masses against the security forces and ISI through ‘stereotypes.’ Regrettably, Pakistan’s common men who are swayed by the prejudices created by our political leaders who have kept on manipulating any crisis for their own self-interests—have now started tarnishing the image of country’s security agencies so as to increase their voting lists.
Notably, when Taliban occupied Swat, Dir and Buner including other adjoining areas, continuing their criminal activities like kidnappings, beheadings, hostage-takings for ransom etc., Nawaz Sharif, Imran Khan and leaders of Jamat-i-Islami became silent. But all the self-concocted stories of Pakistan’s external and internal propagandists proved untrue when Pakistan’s armed forces had broken the backbone of the Taliban militants in the related-regions and South Waziristan. But by ignoring the sacrifices of Pak Army and ISI, these hostile elements were misguiding the general masses by propagating that security forces were killing innocent civilians instead of real militants. They also criticised the army under the pretext of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).
It is due to a wave of ‘emotionalism’ instigated by some irresponsible politicians and media anchors that general masses have forgotten the services of our security forces. In this context, following the lines of the foreign enemies, our own politicians and media have been misguiding the people, setting aside innumerable services of the Pakistan Army during floods, desilting of canals (Bhal Safai)—particularly during the Earthquake of 2005, entailing restoration of law and order on many occasions, resettlement of the IDPs and so on.
Nawaz Sharif must remember that during his regime, WAPDA was going to be bankrupted, and he himself 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.
While, thwarting the subversive acts through pre-arrests of the militants, ISI have captured a number of renowned commanders of the terrorists and foreign agents. Despite its limited resources as compared to CIA, RAW and Mossad, it is owing to the services of ISI that it also provided pre-information about the external elements which have been conspiring against the integrity of Pakistan.
These internal political elements also misperceived that under the pressure of the US, Pak Army will launch military operation in North Waziristan. Quite contrarily, Pakistan’s civil and military leadership flatly refused military operation in North Waziristan as remarked by ISI Chief Lt. Gen. Pasha in the All Parties Conference on September 29. Besides, in response to deliberate air strikes by the US-led NATO forces on army outposts on November 26, which killed 24 soldiers in Mohmand Agency, in consultation with armed forces, Pakistan’s civil leadership took bold steps like suspension of NATO supply, vacation of Shamsi airbase and boycott of the second Bonn Conference.
It is notable that it is due to the lack of pre-conditions for the success of democracy like education, eternal vigilance and political consciousness among general masses that they become an easy prey to shrewd politicians who use them for their own self-interests.
Past experience shows that democracy which has proved to be a success in the west has been a failure in Pakistan. In this regard, we cannot blame the system of democracy itself, because “any instrument can be misused.” And wastage of time in retaliation, hostility for the sake of hostility, alliances and counter-alliances to change the government are characteristics of our politicians.
Being a professional soldier, Gen. Kiyani clearly pointed out on March 6, 2008, “The army would stay out of the political process.” He is still following the principle of non-interference in politics.
So, it is advised to our political rulers and other opposition leaders that instead of disreputing the key institutions like Pak Army and ISI to increase their vote bank, they must better emphasize strong unity among security forces, all politicians and public in order to cope with the multi-faceted crises of Pakistan. This is also the best way to castigate the sinister designs of the foreign enemies.
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