There is a cloud burst of sneers, insults, scorn and scathing criticism that Pakistan Army is enduring, unleashed by an aggressive confederation of a peculiar but pillaging political faction, voracious media and foreign proxies, these days. This unholy alliance has come to gather their enormous bile because Pakistan Army and its intelligence agencies seem to have stalled their ruthless plunder of national resources just when it had picked up speed. There may be some truth to the military boots having stepped over a toe here and there but not what they are making it out to be. It definitely cannot be charged for crushing somebody on duty under its speeding Land Cruiser in broad daylight and cowardly walking away arrogant and unrepentant.
By no means anybody is claiming that military is all full of paragons of humanity or Aristoteles of statecraft but they do make an honest effort to preserve national interest as best as they understand. It may not be perfect but it is telling.
Their best is in the battlefield in which they have beaten the foreign and local militants to pulp single handedly and decisively, while world’s most modern armies across the border were still cowering behind their sandbags.
Comprehensive defeat of terrorists on Pakistani territory has badly roiled their political supporters inside the country and in our immediate neighborhood. No wonder they consider Pakistan Army and our intelligence agencies their prime adversary which must be minimized if not neutralized. This broadly is the current game plan.
In this perspective Gen Raheel Sharif and his tenure as COAS at a critical point in time stand out for many reasons. He assumed command when terrorism in the country was at its peak and political leadership was pussyfooting, dithering on the verge of paralysis and ignominious capitulation. People were being blown to pieces by suicide bombers and vehicle borne explosive devices in dozens every day. Kidnapping for ransom, target killings and blackmailing for money were being done with impunity. There was a pervasive and disabling insecurity flooding homes and streets.
In this challenging security environment Gen Raheel took over the command of Pakistan Army; the last force standing against the rising tide of terrorism. Gen Raheel had an unfair advantage over his peers. He hailed from a matchless military background. Two shaheeds, a brother and an uncle had won Nishan e Haider, the highest awards for bravery in battle. That also constituted a personal challenge to measure up.
Admirably he did a lot of right things as Army Chief. The foremost had been that he was invariably there where battle seemed to be the hottest, spent Eid with frontline troops, took care of them and their families and showed great empathy with the families of those killed in battle. His presence at APS Peshawar when it reopened after the tragic massacre of students and teachers was a great act of solidarity, in line with our noble traditions. In short his known conduct as COAS was one of the most outstanding.
Military was his domain and he passed through it with dignity and poise. It was his interaction with political domain which has remained somewhat opaque and continues to cast shadows over civil-military relations long after he is gone.
Two tricky situations arose during his tenure. PTI-PAT dharna and the DAWN leaks. In one he was cheated by NS and his coterie when he was asked to defuse Dharna build up and then Nawaz Sharif typically disowned his request in the Parliament latter.
Then came a deeper and more sinister incident called DAWN leaks. Reportedly investigations identified complicity of Maryam Nawaz and a nod from NS himself. Gen Raheel for reasons best known to him is thought to have allowed to let the two off the hook to the eventual regret of his successor and the Army. He should have known the despicable selfish strain in Sharifs which has surfaced in its fullest ugliness once Nawaz has been thrown out of power, debarred for life and facing a possible jail term.
Had Gen Raheel not spared the viper and his daughter for their part in DAWN Leaks then, they would not have been proudly and quite shamefully boasting about it publicly today. Maryam is on record having called removal of Pervaiz Rashid wrong. That in other words means she was with it fully and physically and so was Nawaz Sharif by his own admission recently.
Spare a viper and it stings you when you are most unprepared. See how sadly it has restricted the liberty of response and action by the Army to an expanding barrage of insinuations, accusations and literal abuses tossed out to GHQ from the NS-Maryam camp almost on daily basis. This is telling on the families of men and officers killed in action and rattling the rank and file badly. There is an ominous rumble out there waiting to erupt into a devastating roar. This extremely dangerous state of affairs can lead to a major accident should the patience run out.
But wait a minute. NS camp may have hatched this design hoping to evoke a violent response, thereby escape their imminent reckoning before the Courts? Watch your step, it is the country at stake.