Thursday, 12 May 2011

OBL aftermath: Pakistan needs a professional Army not policy-dictating agency

OBL aftermath: Pakistan needs a professional Army not policy-dictating agency
By Habib R. Sulemani

Army Chief Gen. Kayani
THE discovery of Osama bin Laden (OBL) deep inside Pakistan, and his killing during a commando action by the American forces from the neighboring Afghanistan, is the main news around the world for over a week now.

I had expressed my feelings in this regard in a spontaneous poem, but don’t know why The Terrorland Team is hesitating to publish it so far.

Therefore, I'm compelled to write something in prose so that it could get a space amid threats and legal notices from the government and pawns of the secret agencies. Anyway, I want the public to analyze recent events regarding the greatest news story of the century so that they could reach the truth. Here, as a layman, I'm analyzing a few incidents.

On April 30, 2011, Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani addressed a gathering at the General Headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi. It was telecast by the government-run PTV, followed by private news channels. In the next day, it was the lead of the vernacular newspapers while some English language newspapers missed it as the the official news agency, the Associated Press of Pakistan (APP), for some reasons, didn’t report it.

I saw the event live on TV. I observed that during the Army Chief’s speech, Chairman Senate Farooq H. Naik, Interior Minister Rehman Malik and other civilian leaders' faces were grim—they seemed terrorized!

On the occasion, General Kayani, in full uniform and a dozen badges in the presence of a smart contingent of armed personnel, looked like a despot king! His speech seemed the statement of a political leader not the Army Chief, who is legally under the Defense Secretory who works under the Defense Minister.

Read excerpts from the press release of the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR):

COAS (General Kayani) reminded that Pakistan is an ideological Islamic State with a strong foundation that has been further strengthened by the sacrifices of its martyrs.

COAS highlighted that these are challenging times for the nation. He said that it is a historical fact that the nations do pass through difficult times. However, nations with spirit and resolve to defend their freedom, confront and over come these challenges. These kind of experiences give confidence and place the nation on the path of progress and prosperity.

COAS emphasized the need for each one of us to fully realize our duties and responsibilities and shed off despondency and hopelessness. This is only possible when we keep our national spirit and hope alive. We must not lose sight of a prosperous Pakistan, which is possible with the spirit of sacrifice and hard work. For that we need to rise above our narrow interests to make Pakistan stronger. ''I have a firm believe that as a nation, we have all the potential to achieve that''. He added.

COAS reiterated that Pakistan is a peaceful country and wants to maintain good and friendly relations with all other countries. He said that we fully realize that only a prosperous Pakistan is a guarantee for a stronger Pakistan. Therefore, all our efforts should be towards making our people prosperous and secure. But we cannot sacrifice our honour and dignity for the sake of prosperity.

ISI chief Lt-Gen. Pasha
Frankly speaking, General Kayani looked like Prime Minister Z.A. Bhutto, who was hanged by his Army Chief after a bloodless coup in 1970s. General Kayani behaved like the President of Pakistan. And his destination seems the Presidency!

I don’t know it was the fault of the Army Chief's scholarly speech writers at the ISPR or is the actual behavior of the General Kayani. Whatever, Pakistani politicians, from cradle to grave, keep dreaming about the premiership while generals can wage war on anyone just to become the President of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan!

When the American forces were conducting operation inside Pakistan, the Army Chief and Chief Minister Punjab were talking political gimmicks at the Army House in Rawalpindi. On May 2, 2011, daily Dawn, considered a mouthpiece of the ISPR, reported:

RAWALPINDI: Punjab Chief Minister Mian Shahbaz Sharif held a meeting with Army Chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani here at the Army House on Sunday night, a reliable source told Dawn.

The source said Mr Shahbaz Sharif landed at the Benazir Bhutto International Airport on a special flight at around 9.45pm along with his private secretary. Later, Mr Shahbaz set aside police protocol and left for the meeting without his secretary.
The meeting between Shahbaz Sharif and the army chief was held at a time when President Asif Ali Zardari was in his first session with leaders of the Pakistan Muslim League-Q at the Presidency.

According to Samaa TV, The meeting was three-hour long. It means from 9:45 PM to 12:45 AM—when a global event was going on inside Pakistan but the Army Chief was reportedly not aware of it. The New York Times reported:

WASHINGTON — Osama bin Laden, the mastermind of the most devastating attack on American soil in modern times and the most hunted man in the world, was killed in a firefight with United States forces in Pakistan on Sunday, President Obama announced.

In a dramatic late-night appearance in the East Room of the White House, Mr. Obama declared that “justice has been done” as he disclosed that American military and C.I.A. operatives had finally cornered Bin Laden, the Al Qaeda leader who had eluded them for nearly a decade. American officials said Bin Laden resisted and was shot in the head. He was later buried at sea.

After a long silence, on May 5, 2011 the ISPR came out of hibernation and said:

138th Corps Commanders’ Conference was held today at General Headquarters Rawalpindi. General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) chaired the meeting.

COAS made it very clear that any similar action, violating the sovereignty of Pakistan, will warrant a review on the level of military / intelligence cooperation with the United States.

The Corps Commanders were informed about the decision to reduce the strength of US military personnel in Pakistan to the minimum essential.

The Forum, taking serious note of the assertions made by Indian military leadership about conducting similar operations, made it very clear that any misadventure of this kind will be responded to very strongly. There should be no doubt about it.

Then there was the news that Army Chief General Kayani had invited a group of local journalists/anchors at the GHQ for an of-the-record briefing. However, on May 9, 2011, the ISPR said:

General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) addressed the officers at Rawalpindi, Kharian and Sialkot garrisons today.

He discussed one point agenda of Abbottabad incident. He said that Abbottabad incident has been in sharp public focus. Incomplete information and lack of technical details have resulted in speculations and misreporting. Public dismay and despondency has also been aggravated due to insufficient formal response. It is believed that people of Pakistan need to be taken into confidence through their honourable elected representatives.

Chief of Army Staff said that he has requested the honourable Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani to kindly consider convening of a joint session of the Parliament for briefing on security issues as related to Abbottabad incident.

ISPR chief Maj-Gen. Athar Abbas
Here General Kayani sounds more than an Army Chief. Indeed, a statesman and the de fecto President of Pakistan—as I had mentioned in a poem: A blasphemy case in the court of God. And then Prime Minister Gilani announced the same as had been ordered. The announcement of a commission, led by a three-star serving general, has been mocked by many people, and there is an increasing demand for an independent commission to investigate the OBL episode.

One point, when the Army Chief said: “Incomplete information and lack of technical details have resulted in speculations and misreporting.” This means, it was his leadership’s fault or incompetence—therefore, the Army leadership including the Army, ISPR, ISI and MI chiefs should be held responsible for everything regarding the OBL episode. And this is what the people of Pakistan are demanding but the mainstream media is yet not presenting the gospel truth.

OBL's presence in Pakistan is now a global and violation of sovereignty is a national issue. General Kayani seems in a critical position—he stands there where his predecessor General Musharraf was before the end of his tyrant rule.

Desperate efforts are being made by the Army leadership to save their ‘extended’ jobs. The Air Force Chief or civilian leadership couldn’t be made scapegoats easily in this regard. The nation wants to hear the truth and then punishment of the persons responsible for sheltering OBL near the Kakul Military Academy and then failing in their prime duty to protect the boarders of the nuclear power country.

People in Pakistan want a new Army, working under the democratically elected government. The Army should be a professional security agency not a policy-dictating body. Only in this way Pakistan can come out of the economical, social and political crises. Islam and Pakistan both are safe. However, criminal elements in the ruling class of the country are in danger. (Images via Google)

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