Why does Pakistan always need savior? From a nation of 180 millions, why are we always looking for one man (and yes, Aunty Pakistan, it is always a man) to save us? Earlier this year I wrote about the growing number of glowing reports that had begun to appear in the media praising COAS Gen Raheel as Pakistan’s saviour. Newsweek Pakistan termed him ‘Man of the Year’ last year and claimed he is “changing Pakistan forever”, followed by ‘journalists’ describing the General as almost super-human. This is not unusual and we have seen the same done for other promised saviours like Gen Musharraf, Tahirul Qadri, and Imran Khan also. However Gen Raheel’s cult of personality has taken on the air of a political campaign thanks to the new social media. Recently more and more posts have begun appearing and being spread that are taking this pattern to new ends:
The great era for Pakistan is coming soon. Inshallah pic.twitter.com/qdfsp1mkF9
— Amer Khan (@KhanAmerKhan) August 27, 2015
— ☺ArmyBrat ✌ (@iamGARISONIAN) August 24, 2015
An extension for COAS & his team, to eliminate extremist & political terrorism & corruption. https://t.co/rKiofEpEQj
— Ahmed Quraishi (@AQpk) July 6, 2015
Seeing such posts fill my timeline reminds of another recent campaign
What are we to make of this? Is it truly a populist outpouring, or is it a PR campaign being directed? If so, who is behind it? Isn’t Gen Raheel embarrassed by such treatment? He is the highest ranking military officer of the nation, not a Bollywood star. These type posts sound like they are from Hello!
The other possibility is that Gen Raheel likes the attention and the praise and sees it as strengthening his authority. But what other nation treats its Army Chief like a movie star? Officers are supposed to be quiet professionals who serve their country. Even Generals who later turned to politics were able to be successful because they came to the podium with the respect earned by putting their country first, not their face on billboards like an ambitious local party official.
This is the concern. Chief of Army Staff is a position that is supposed to be about national good, not individual ambition. Gen Raheel is doing a commendable job, but some are turning him into a ‘cult of personality’ which is dangerous because it can undermine his own authority and respect for the Army itself if it goes on much longer and people begin to see the Army Chief as a self-promoter rather than a man of the ranks. Soldiers want to follow one of their own, not a prima donna whose intentions are questioned. Whether it is an orchestrated campaign or just a case of overzealous pride, ISPR should step in and put a stop to this rising ‘cult of personality’ before Gen Raheel’s own credibility as Army chief is destroyed as a result.