Thursday, December 6, 2007

'Not Without My Khakis'

He said it. He probably could not control his emotions on the day when he bid farewell to the army in a ceremony reeking of pomp and excess, but Musharraf summed up, in one sentence, the supreme military psyche: “Without this army, the entity of Pakistan cannot exist” [emphasis added].

Right. And we lost East Pakistan partly because this glorious army surrendered when it most mattered that they put up a fight! Thanks to this very army the “entity of Pakistan” is struggling to stay alive today. Its interference, time and again, in the political process-not to mention its other ambitious money-making schemes- has done irreparable damage to the country’s institutions (in addition to that caused by some politicians).

Pakistanis too, are fast developing an intense dislike for the country’s army. Only the other day someone remarked “Show me an army officer, and I’ll show you a real estate agent.” What a shameful image the institution has created for itself.

What sham democracy are we heading towards, where the general-turned-president firmly believes that the army is the ‘be all and end all’ for the country, that our “existence” (no mild choice of words, mind you) depends on an institution that has, time and again, proved itself hungry only for power and wealth.

One is astounded at the audacity of the former general as he callously reduced Pakistan to a mere “entity” whose past and future rests on the shoulders of this bungling mob of soldiers called an army. And, to give credit where it is due, for so many months now and with many a heavy heart, the lower ranks of the military have been fighting fellow Pakistanis. While we empathize with them, we cannot ignore the fact that they are part of an institution that has rarely served the country faithfully. This cannot have been what armies were created for.

It is but natural then that, in these unfortunate times, Pakistanis all over the world should gasp for a breath of fresh air, and struggle to revive that document which almost every other country in the world believes is the real key to a nation’s existence – the constitution. Surely, in the 21st century the life of any nation does not depend upon its army? And yet, in Pakistan our civilian president proclaims that his heart will remain inundated with love for the army. We only hope he can get his head out of the murky waters of military-style politics before his policies spell total ruin for Pakistan. Nevertheless, be warned all those who err to believe that Mr. Musharraf will be a force for positive change in Pakistan: you can take the man out of the army, but you will never take the army out of the man.

The struggle must continue. Musharraf may have shed his “skin” but there may be others conspiring to seize the much-coveted throne, illegally and extra-constitutionally. We can no longer allow the army, or any single person, be it a general or a politician, to attach to himself the label of indispensability. They must know that they are accountable to the people of Pakistan and, no number of self-constructed halos over their heads will detract from the oppression and misery they have wrought on Pakistan for sixty years!

We do not accept the sherwani in place of his khakis. Musharraf, the time has come for you and your beloved army to surrender your rein on power and make a full retreat!

Maria
Islamabad, Pakistan
December 2007

1 comment:

SHAH said...

Well your article is the same as others are writing nowadays. Let me clarify few things just for your knowledge.
Q1. Do we really require a standing army of half million strength?
Ans: Can you give a “Guarantee" that India won’t attack Pakistan in times to come and if for instance she attacks us then will you join Pakistan army and fight against them like an Israel army. It is very simple to say YES but impossible to do that. So I think you require a standing army to protect your country.
Q2: Did we really lose the Battle in East Pakistan?
Ans: I say Yes. Reason: when your own people go against you because of the political and ethnic polarization then you can’t live together. So the defeat in East Pakistan was due to political reasons first followed by Military. But when you see the history you will find that great armies like German army, Russians and French were defeated and even humiliated. No German says that because our army lost 2nd World War so they have embarrassed us.
Q3. Should army be part of Political system?
Ans: I say NO. That should be left to Politicians.
Q4. Should army run business organizations?
Ans: I believe Yes. What harm is done by these companies to our country. I see none.
You see, these companies like ASKARI bank and sister companies are at the top in returning tax to government which is in billions. These companies have 97 percent civilian staffs, not army personal that are paid better than others. In totality these companies are at one hand boosting the economy of Pakistan and on the other hand are a source of live hood for hundreds and thousands of civilian families around Pakistan.
Q4: Now you talked about DHA and real state. Let me ask you a simple question. Why all those including yourself who talk against DHA are so willing to have a plot or house in DHA. If you see the list of members of DHA you will find that 80 percent are civilians and most of them are politicians and lawyers.
Q5. Does President Musharaf represent whole army?
Ans : No . Army is loyal to the country and obedient to Chief of army staff. There can’t be any mutiny in army. One man's act cannot represent whole army.
Q6: What benefit an army officer and his counterpart in civil services in same grade get? Just ask them. And i assure you they are far better than army officers.
This army has roots in us. Army officers and its soldiers are from us not from any other country. Cribbing is very simple but solution is always difficult. If you are still not convinced then go ahead and express your views.