BROTHERS IN ARMS

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A review of Pakistans most recent activities tell a story contrasting the allegation of “International Isolation”:

  • Sartaj Aziz in his efforts to represent Pakistan as friendly nation has declared that our officials will be attending the Heart of Asia conference in India; despite India’s withdrawal from SAARC. He also stated that 56 countries condemned Indian atrocities in Kashmir during a conference in Tashkent recently.
  • Tariq Fatemi briefed the British National Security Adviser Sir Mark Lyall Grant on Pakistan’s efforts to promote peace and stability in Afghanistan. Who in turn acknowledged Pakistan’s role in promulgating peace and stability in the region.
  • President Mamnoon Hussain embarked on a visit to Qatar and managed to discuss military cooperation between the two countries. Qatar has also displayed interest in purchasing defence equipment and hardware from Pakistan.

While on parallel lines the Pakistani military has been engaged in creating their own polygamous ties with various states.

A recent event which mixed business and pleasure was the 1st international PACES (Physical Agility & Combat Efficiency System) 2016, which concluded successfully on the 22nd of October.

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Army contingents from China, UK, USA, Turkey, Nepal, Saudi Arabia, Kazakhstan, Sri Lanka, Jordan, Malaysia and Maldives, Australia, Bangladesh and Indonesia participated in the event. It was an initiative of the Pakistan Army to uplift the fitness ability of its regular infantry, in the face of emerging challenges such as counter insurgency operations.

Some believe this event to be an indicator of peace returning to Pakistan – An event which prepares soldiers to face emerging war challenges. But after all COAS Raheel Shareef did state at the closing ceremony of the event that “Operation Zarb- e – Azab is an example of war for peace which is bringing stability and prosperity to Pakistan and the region”; perhaps this irony is our reality. Pakistan has ‘good’ military ties with the countries that participated in the event, and  the military diplomacy has been highly proactive lately, some of recent accomplishments include:

The first ever joint exercises of Pakistan- Russian military in September.

Pak-US “Inspired Gambit” exercise which was aimed at sharing and gaining from each other’s counter-terrorism experiences was conducted in September.

The COAS visited Germany in September to attend a conference alongside army chiefs of Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan their desire to improve multilateral military cooperation amongst their countries.

General Rashad Mahmood, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee met with General Hulusi Akar in October to discuss matters of bilateral interest and security challenges.

General Sir Nicholas Patrick Carter, Chief of General Staff (CGS) UK Army, met with COAS Raheel Sharif in October to discuss regional security issues and acknowledged Pak Army’s achievements in fighting terrorism.

General Rashad Mahmood visited Indonesia in October to discuss matters of bilateral interest and mutual cooperation.

Apart from that Pakistan and China are already in a ‘serious relationship’.

A nation possessed by the ghost of King Leonidas?

Warring is an innate human trait, and men are generally ‘loud’ in their battles owing to their primitive ‘hunter’ traits.

Valorous, courageous and fearless have been the constant adjectives to desrcibe soldiers for eons. Otherwise today’s world would have never remembered Aristodemus of Sparta who decided to fight till death in the battle of Plataea to redeem himself. While the Greeks may have found other things to worry about, the Pakistanis have not, in a unique concoction of human nature along with our nurture; it is not so surreal if the face of your grandfather becomes a vague memory but the face of Aziz Bhatti Shaheed remains as vivid as the sun on a clear day in your mind.

Pakistan’s fast paced military diplomacy is likely to be misconstrued as ‘overly- ambitious’ in its aims, but a country that has to adapt to multi-dimensional security crises cannot exist without resilient military diplomacy, thus making the irony of “war for peace” our reality. Normality is so subjective, and for us a ‘hyper active’ military diplomacy is ‘nomal’ given the web we are caught in . In the light of this reality, while we are affixed on bridging our economic and security ‘isolations’; events such as PACES bring a glimpse peace in the region, not solely because it displays our combat abilities but instead gives Pakistan the opportunity to heal, and bridge the gap that not only isolates us from others but is often not taken into account i.e our ‘social isolation’ the event promotes Pakistan’s interaction with the outside world which was heavily dented especially after unfortunate incidents of the past like: the blasts in Al-Hamra art festival and the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team.

It can be further noted that the recent actions initiated by the Foreign office and the military are harmonious  and attached to their respective specturms of diplomacy. In the wake of the travesty that befell Quetta Police Academy  due to terrorist attacks, practially moments after the nation witnessed a short lived moment of glory in the form of PACES only suggests that each institution should become “overly-ambitious” In their own spheres , defend their front and get this nation off the roller coaster ride.

Pakistan’s missing puzzle pieces; Food for thought:

“These brothers and sisters have different natures, and some of them God framed to rule, whom he fashioned of gold; others he made of silver, to be auxiliaries; others again to be husbandmen and craftsmen, and these were formed by him of brass and iron.” (The Replublic , Plato)

By Hira A. Shafi

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