Ideally speaking the Pakistan army and ISI should focus on the threat emanating from across the international border. They should identify and combat terrorists, foreign agents and their associates in the local population. Pak Army should not involve itself in foreign diplomacy or domestic politics. However, on the ground, the situation in Pakistan is totally different. There has been no Foreign Minister in the previous government and Chief of Army staff has been running to Afghanistan and few other important countries to bargain better deals on key national issues.
It is the bitter truth that most of Pakistan’s civil institutions are barely functional. Pakistan Police force behaves as the personal servant of the elite. It cannot fairly investigate, prosecute and provide security to witnesses of any worthwhile incident. A recent example is of Police that has no credibility to safeguard the printing of ballot papers for general election 2018. The judges are afraid to pass judgment against terrorists and mafias and consequently, military courts are busy trying terrorists. Intelligence Bureau (IB) instead of being an expert on domestic national security is busy tracking political opponents of the ruling party and spying on military intelligence agencies.
WAPDA cannot prevent power theft and recover electricity bills rather its employees are facilitating power theft to industry and powerful people. PEMRA, a media regulatory body, cannot stop national media to air highly biased opinions. Pakistan’s media houses are selling their primetime for foreign propaganda. Fake and fraud housing societies are massively advertised through national electronic and print media and no one bothers in FIA. Bankers are writing off huge debts of influential people and involved in money laundering. Pak Railway, PIA, hospitals and schools are in bad shape. Foreign NGOs are meddling in domestic politics and pursuing their own agenda.
We here in Pakistan are left with only one functional institution; Pak army which is called upon to do the job of other institutions not only in crisis but in routine situations. Yet “extra liberals” and few politicians accuse Pak Army and its premier intelligence agency, ISI of occupying a space more than its fair share. Pakistan’s politicians need to look at the planks in their own eyes. The more civil institutions become functional and credible, the less demand there will be for the military to play a role in public affairs.
During the recent past, a surge in the international media has been witnessed promoting a collective narrative that the forthcoming general elections in Pakistan are being influenced by the military with the collaboration of judiciary. It is a dangerous narrative creating a rift between the Pak Army and common citizens. It will give leverage to western interference in our domestic politics and has serious implications for our national security. This interference is part of the ongoing hybrid /fifth generation warfare waged against Pakistan.
Leading US and Western media sources such as the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, CNN, Radio Free Europe, VoA, Guardian, The Times, Daily Telegraph and BCC and many others have collectively projected a common theme that the military and the Judiciary schemed to oust a democratically elected PM, following his criticism of the military and especially the ISI, — an extension of the “Dawn Leaks” narrative.
Behind the fascia of defending democracy in Pakistan, the western subversion has malicious designs against Pakistan. leaders would always suit them the best to pursue their plot. Since the corrupt political leaders in Pakistan have vast properties and substantial capital lying in the West, they are easily susceptible to western pressures. However, the same is not achievable through institutions like military or a proactive judiciary.
The US and western designs are to coerce Pakistan to accept India’s hegemonic role in South Asia and the Indian Ocean that would ultimately boost US interests to contain China; help her to defeat the Taliban in Afghanistan and most importantly, to freeze if not roll-back its strategic nuclear and missile programs with greater US supervision.
The Pakistan military is seen as an obstacle to the achievement of these objectives. It is often been accused to promoting hostility and confrontation with India; pursuing the nuclear and missile program which in their reckoning is destabilizing the region; supporting Taliban and other terrorist groups against India, Afghanistan and the US and promoting relations with China contrary to American interests, especially in the defence field and through CPEC. Additionally, growing Pakistan’s relations with Russia, Turkey and Iran etc. are also pinching US, West, India and Afghanistan.
Consequently, the objective of the western narrative is to demonize Pakistan military and anyone that is seen to be on the same side, such as the Judiciary at present or PTI leader Imran Khan. The hypocrisy of the US and the West goes as far as describing western collaborators who even engage in terrorism, as Baloch “separatists” and “insurgents” rather than terrorists. Moreover, they continue to obstruct efforts to bring criminals and terrorists under their own jurisdiction to justice, such as former MQM leader Altaf Hussain, Baloch runaway leaders, few Pashtoon absconders and turncoats like Hussain Haqqani.
A nation is defeated when it is hit at its core and its centre of gravity. Pakistan’s centre of gravity, whether we like it or not, is Pakistan Army. Pawns and stooges are wittingly or unwittingly being used to harm Pakistan by spreading killer disinformation against the institution which is the first and the last line of defence, its follies notwithstanding.
By discrediting the Pakistan Army and portraying it as anti-people, anti-democratic, anti-state and projecting the looters and plunderers as saviours and symbols of civil supremacy, they seem to be serving some masters who are bankrolling money to protect their loot and plunder. Only a naive would believe otherwise. Venom is being spat in Facebook posts and other social media handles against it, in an extremely consistent manner and there is definitely a method in the madness. Giving carte blanche to such elements would be a mistake of gigantic and horrendous proportion. Civil liberties, democratic values, democracy and all the lofty jargons sound good but state comes first and foremost.
Every Pakistani citizen is distressed over current Pakistan’s economy and foreign debts. A few weeks back, Pak army spokesperson DG ISPR commented about faltering Pakistan economy and he was severely criticized. Today, he is proved totally right. Pakistan is facing difficulty in repaying installment of debts. US dollar has climbed to Rs. 131 vis a vis Pak rupees and there are rumours of its further decline. Politicians must develop institutions and improve governance.
Till then, it is very important for the survival of this country that this vacuum is filled by own army less it is filled by the Taliban or UN.
Unfortunately, a significant portion of our population is carried away with this narrative including few intellectuals of the society. Hence, the threat in the immediate future is that if the election results do not favour the PML (N) or a hung Parliament emerges, the western media would go in over-drive to accuse the Pakistan military of rigging the polls and thereby generating chaos in the country with the help of defeated candidates and other collaborators.
*The author Mr. Atta Rasool Malik hails from semi-tribal areas of Pakistan. He holds an M Phil degree in international relations’ from National Defence University in Islamabad. His interests include politics of South Asia, the Middle East and Islamic & Jewish theology.