We often ridicule our politicians and glorify our army generals even if they sabotaged our constitution so many times that we lost the count. But we do not notice that our generals have always proved to be stupid and slow learners. We describe our politicians as corrupt and self centered, but we never notice that their decisions have proved beneficial for our country.
You may be wondering what makes me make such a statement at this point of time. Well… this observation of mine has been prompted by the most recent speech of our Current Man of Steel – General Ashfaq Pervez Kiani – at the occasion of 66th Birth Anniversary of our dear land of the pure – his remark “the fight against extremism and terrorism is our own war”. It has dawned upon our Army Chief now that it is our war, though we are fighting it since ages, and have already lost over 40,000 lives.
On the other hand, our political leader – who has received a lot of scorn in past four years – had said that many a time earlier. When Osama bin Laden was taken out by the US Seals, Mr. Zardari wrote an article published in Washington Post titled “Pakistan did its part”, and claimed that Pakistan had cooperated with the US for eliminating the world’s most wanted terrorist. Let me share some excerpts from that article here:
“Although the events of Sunday were not a joint operation, a decade of cooperation and partnership between the United States and Pakistan led up to the elimination of Osama bin Laden…”
“The war on terrorism is as much Pakistan’s war as as it is America’s”.
“Our people, our government, our military, our intelligence agencies are very much united. Some abroad insist that this is not the case, but they are wrong. Pakistanis are united.”
It is interesting to note that what our political leader was telling the world at that time was despised by our generals and they chose to whip up the anti US sentiments by declaring the incident a violation of our sovereignty. Today, our general has realized that it is very much “our war”.
This is not the only time when our generals have made a late realization. When Mr. Zardari
was elected President of Pakistan, he declared that India was not our enemy. This statement was given probably in September 2008, and we saw the Mumbai Attack in November 2008 – in less than two month. The accusing fingers were pointed at Pakistan, and Pakistan later admitted that the attack was planned at its soil. The two nuclear armed armies stood face to face for a considerable time. The peace process was thrown out of window.
Our political leaders have again managed to restart a dialogue with the arch rival, and we are having a lot of positive vibes these days about the peace. If this process were not scuttled in 2008, we would have moved much ahead.
But that was not the only time when peace process was scuttled. We have a long history. Let me remind you of first tenure of PPP’s rule after the dark days of General Zia ul Haq. Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi visited Pakistan, but soon our elected government was thrown out.
Later, Nawaz Sharif – a prodigy of our generals – came to power twice, and realized that Pakistan could not sustain an enmity with its neighbour. He threw the shackles of establishment aside and started a dialogue with India. Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee visited Pakistan and agreed to resolve all issues through dialogue. However, our then Chief of Army Staff allegedly refused to meet Vajpayee as he would have to salute a Hindu Prime Minister.
As Nawaz Sharif was holding dialogue with his Indian counterpart, our general staged Kargil war, and dashed all our hopes for peace with India. The general soon toppled the elected government and took it upon himself to save this hapless nation.
As he struggled with the responsibility of running this county, he was quick to realize that Pakistan could not sustain endless enmity with India. Then, the whole world saw on their television screens that the same general finished his address to SAARC Summit in Dhaka (Jan 2002) and went straight to shake hands with Vajpayee, who was surprised at such an unexpected gesture from his arch rival.
Today, we see that the normalization of relations with India is moving ahead without any Mumbai style hiccups, and our most powerful man realizes that “the fight against extremism and terrorism is our own war”.
Let us hope that our generals also realize that our politicians are not all dumb heads, but they make much better leaders than do the generals. Let us hope that our generals realize that they better stick to what they are supposed to do, and leave the political arena to those who are supposed to rule that arena. And last but not the least, let us hope that General Kayani has realized the futility of operation in Balochistan as well.