To The Army Chief: Are You Watching This?
To The Army Chief: Are You Watching This?
What some of the retired military men are doing on television screens these days is downright damaging for the military. Imagine what impact it could have on the young officers viewing such TV programs in their quarters or messes? What respect, faith and loyalty they would have for their senior officers? What would the men – the finest men that an army could have – think of their leaders after their simple and honest minds are polluted by such hostile propaganda and that too from their own ‘leaders’ against their own army? This is something that the enemy psy-warfare gurus and pundits try their best to achieve through various ingenious and subtle psy-war techniques. But here we are offering them on a platter what they could otherwise never achieve.
By COL. RIAZ JAFRI (RETD.)
Friday, 6 June 2008.
RAWALPINDI, Pakistan—Dear General Ashfaq Pervez Kiani,
Never before has an army chief been confronted with such a challenging political situation in the country coupled with an unsavoury civil and military relationship than what you have been facing ever since you took over the command of the Pakistan army.
Never before has the Pak army been subjected to such a test, trial and tribulation from within as it is facing today. I have to admit with a head hung in shame that never before had the image of the army been this low in the eyes of its own very people than it is today, who were never tired of singing its praise and showering everything they had upon their Dhol Sipahiyas.
However, it is indeed gratifying to see that you were and are cognizant of this situation and of the factors causing this damage to the army and have taken certain measures to redeem the situation and restore the honour of the soldier.
Sir, you have done quite a bit but a lot more needs to be done.
Unfortunately, of late certain old soldiers, instead of fading away gracefully, have taken upon themselves the self criticism and the criticism of their seniors under whom they have had the ‘honor’ to serve most loyally, faithfully and obediently.
These retired officers are playing unwittingly into the hands of the clever media men. In their naivety they have gone too far, too far to the extent of invoking the most scathing and stinging ridicule of one of the first beneficiaries of the removal of the ‘Graduation Clause’ – the haughty Salman Taseer, known for making a quick buck and caring too hoots about any one else. Drunk with the gubernatorial powers the other day he made the most un-gubernatorial remark about the retired generals whom he didn’t consider worth the bloody toe of his shoe (jooti ki noke ke brabar bhi naheen samajhta)!
Well done, Mr. President, for appointing such a Governor with such shoes!
And, Sir, Mr. President, if you didn’t know this facet of Aatish Taseer’s father and the husband of the Indian journalist Talveen Singh then you need to read a lot more about the persons and the personalities. And, I sincerely hope that the Governor does care a wee bit more about you than the retired generals, for, whether you like it or not, you are one of them now!
Dear General Kiani,
I am sure we all know that there is a fine and subtle difference between the critique and the criticism. Whereas the former is said to be healthy and constructive the latter is known to be destructive. And, then, there are occasions, forums and places to indulge in each one of them. The underlying spirit being to draw lessons to learn from the mistakes of yours and those of your enemy and not to repeat them in future.
However, what of late some of our ‘stalwarts’ are broadcasting to the world on the electronic and print media is an outright disparaging insult for the army.
Imagine what impact it could have on the young officers viewing such TV programs in their quarters or messes? What type of discussions will it all not generate among them and with what effects? What respect, faith and loyalty they would have for their senior officers? What would the men – the finest men that an army could have – think of their leaders after their simple and honest minds are polluted by such hostile propaganda and that too from their own ‘leaders’ against their own army? Would it not affect the greatest and the ultimate bond between the led and the leader?
Who said that, “destroy the faith of the men in their commander and you would turn fine soldiers into an unruly mob”?
This is something that the enemy psy-warfare gurus and pundits try their best to achieve through various ingenious and subtle psy-war techniques. But here we are offering them on a platter what they could otherwise never achieve.
Similarly, we hear and view quite a few other retired senior officers coming out rather amateurishly with certain intimate details from their experiences – some even operational in nature – just to impress the general viewers with their insight knowledge of the incidence. It is a common phenomenon that we all do come across some very sensitive information during the course of our service but that doesn’t mean that such information becomes our personal property.
The case in point is that of General Jamshed Gulzar Kiani (Retd), who should have exercised more caution in describing the details of Kargil, but I suppose the general was carried away more by his personal anti-Musharraf vendetta than to remember that discretion was the better part of valour.
Surprisingly some of the ‘professional” retired military commentators seem to be eve ready with the microphone just waiting for a call from some ordinary anchormen.
This is becoming rather too much and not only eroding the image of the armed forces but also widening the chasm between the civil and military. Nothing could be more dangerous for a country whose civil populace is not at the back of its armed forces. We have had the most ignoble and worst experience of our national history it in the erstwhile East Pakistan. I would not be doing justice if I do not exclude Generals Talat Masood, Asad Durrani and a few others like them, who not only conduct themselves with grace and dignity but also maintain the level of the discussion commensurate with their high level of intellect and thought.
Keeping in line with your efforts of rehabilitating the army’s image, something urgent has to be done in this regard as well. Such a practice has to be stopped forthwith before the cancer spreads beyond control.
What do the Army Rules, Regulations and the Official Secret Act say about it? I believe there is an official moratorium of an initial thirty years on all such war office correspondence and making of secret information public which otherwise could not be.
Could there, therefore, be an official reminder from you, in your capacity as the Chief of the Army Staff, sent to all ex service personnel to refrain from divulging any information about the military operations or making any derogatory remarks about the army? And, if need be, a disciplinary action initiated against the defaulter resulting in the forfeiture of his pension and other benefits accruing to him on retirement from the service, as warranted under the rules.
I thank you for your time.
Col. Riaz Jafri (Retd) is based in Rawalpindi. His commentary is appears frequently in several national Pakistani dailies. He can be reached at email@example.com
Welcoming Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif!
The PMLN president Mr Shehbaz Sharif was sworn in as member of the Punjab Assembly yesterday after being elected unopposed. He will certainly be elected as leader of the house in the Punjab Assembly on Sunday. Anyone who remembers Mr Sharif’s last tenure as chief minister Punjab will welcome him back to the job. He has been rated the best administrator the province has had even by those who have sat in opposition to him. This time around he is even more mature as a politician — as evidenced by his appearances on TV channels — and should be able to measure himself better against the challenges he will face.
The last time Mr Sharif was chief minister, his brother was prime minister of Pakistan. This time his party is a coalition partner of the PPP in power in Islamabad, and he will have PPP ministers in his cabinet. What the province will gain is his personal drive, his stamina at work and his dislike of the notorious provincial red tape. He will also be able to extend his developmental vision to southern Punjab which was unwisely alienated by the PMLQ in its last days. Mr Shehbaz Sharif is free of political stereotypes. People will recall that in order to acquire better know-how in the sector of deprived local communities, he consulted late Hameed Akhtar Khan of the Orangi Pilot Project of Karachi and won his respect. Punjab expects an all-round and evenly spread developmental effort from him. There are cities in the province with threadbare educational and communication infrastructures waiting for his attention. (Daily Times).