by Agha Haider Raza
In the December 18th New York Times publication, an article Pakistan Ministers Are Called Before the Courts was written by Jane Perlez and Salman Masood. Though the article does state the annulment of the National Reconciliation Ordinance and the repercussions of the decision taken by the Pakistan Supreme Court, it has given an image portraying the Pakistan Army as an anti-democratic institution. Understandably the Pakistan Army is going through a turbulent phase. The army is currently engaged in a battle against militants who are adamant in bringing down the current democratic set up in Pakistan. However, one must not forget that many of these militants have grown up in the same neighborhood as the army soldiers, and regardless of allegiance, it is always difficult to take up arms against a childhood acquaintance.
Furthermore, Perlez and Masood have given the impression to their readers that the Pakistan Army does not want to enjoy peaceful relationships with her neighbors nor work with the civilian government. This could not be further from the truth and at such a critical point in history, with terrorism and militancy on the rise; one should refrain from such generalization. It is incorrect to believe that the Pakistan Army has problems with President Zardari, due to his struggle of bringing a “civilian in charge of the country’ premier spy agency, the powerful Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency”.
Behind the scenes, the army has been critical of President Zardari, in part because of his early move to put a civilian in charge of the country’s premier spy agency, the powerful Inter-Services Intelligence agency, and in part because of his gestures of conciliation toward India, Pakistan’s archenemy.
The civilian mentioned by Perlez and Masood has vast corruption charges against him along with a public approval rating that is rather abysmal. By placing the above mentioned civilian in charge of the ISI, the government could have hampered the fight against terrorism and militancy wherever present in Pakistan. It is necessary that the Pakistan Army falls under the civilian leadership in order to see a peaceful and secure Pakistani nation. But it is difficult to make such a case when the government itself needs to prove its own credibility and legitimacy in the eyes of her citizens. With the threat of terrorism looming over the heads of persons residing in Pakistan, now is the time for policy and implementation, not politics.
The citizens of Pakistan constantly hear the mantra of “do more” from those running the United States government along with many in the British Parliament. How many soldiers need to be put forward, how many lives need to be lost for the entire world to realize that Pakistan is at its wits end with these militants. Suicide bombings happen at least once a week, while the military is physically engaged in our troubled areas. It is ironic that the United States seems to be frustrated with the lack of enthusiasm shown on the part of the Pakistan military, but was it not this particular government that had been deliberating for many months, questioning the “political” aspect of sending more troops to Afghanistan? Pakistanis have lost many loved ones over the past few years at the hands of terrorists. Has anyone ever thought of the mother who lost her son at the recent Parade Lane attack in Rawalpindi? After all what was her son’s fault, he was just attending Friday prayers.
It is painful to constantly hear this now ridiculous phrase of “do more”. Many seem to take the value of life very lightly nowadays. But we do not. We have suffered enough, but worry not, Pakistan is a resilient nation. We will rise to the occasion as we have in the past over centuries on end. We know deep down inside that the terrorists will never be able to instill enough terror in our hearts, forcing us to stay at home or away from our educational institutions. This has been proven time and time again, after every single suicide attack. It has been proven when we find the citizens of Peshawar shopping in bazaars and the residents of Karachi relaxing at the beach. We know what lies ahead and we will defeat those who threaten our peace and security. Worry not, we will survive!