Indeed DG ISPR Major General Asif Ghafoor’s long presser the other day covering the affairs of the state at length from military’s perspective setting in place a narrative that more or less seems to be out of Arabian Nights tales. However, it did lay a whole table with variety of foods for thought. Although the picture that he unveiled provided a colourful hue for the future underestimating the current hazards on way forward.
One must give full credit to Gen Ghafoor for assuming a multi-faceted role in his press conference leaving nothing of the dog meat for rest of the Prime Minister Imran Khan’s army of cabinet ministers to chew, each more incompetent than the other.
Impressive it was to see him bare Imran Khan’s manifesto in his words covering education, foreign affairs, economy, law and order and full bloodied warning to PTM supporters and political parties that stand by them. His spicy narrative included Rao Anwar’s fate.
It seemed to justify government’s leniency to him following his record of over 400 murders in encounters. He conveniently forgot that Prime Minister Khan was initially supportive of PTM and its young leadership for voicing the dire grievances of the war afflicted people of Fata and Waziristan. He did mention the three point PTM complaints and the measures taken by the army to redress them.
One must appreciate that though he had an irresistible itch to “sort” out PTM but he had to listen to the saner advice of Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa to tolerate their anger and chill out. Otherwise as he claimed, “it would have been easy to fix them up” when according to him, their time was up.
These words reverberate in my ears the confidence expressed by our generals in sorting out in no time popular revolt in erstwhile East Pakistan—especially when to our martial military leaders, Bingos were puny people physically, could not carry the weight of a rifle and were under nourished to have a stamina to face their over armed and healthier brothers from West Pakistan.
What ultimately happened is history. It was not the six-foot tall West Pakistani soldier with the gun but the little fragile Bengali finger pulling the trigger that brought about the biggest surrender of a Muslim army in history leading to imprisonment of 93,000 civil and military personnel that were later retrieved by the statesmanship of a civilian leader without letting victor India and Bangladesh institute a Nuremberg-like war crimes trial of the Pakistani generals accused of genocide and en mass rape of women.
The best part of General Ghafoor’s narrative was his open challenge to India not to make the same mistake as that of February 27th in which it lost its two fighter planes and earned for its huge fighting machinery abysmal shame. Indeed, his offer to Delhi needs to be considered seriously.
However, it would have mattered more had the offer been made by the PM or his Foreign Minister. Pakistan is ready for talks, choice is theirs—to seek permanent peace and road to prosperity or opt for mutual destruction. He made it clear that Pakistan cannot be coerced into submission by force. We have the necessary deterrence to meet any challenge including nuclear.
While that being that, one must listen to PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’s comments in relation to General Ghafoor’s presser. He is absolutely right to say that ISPR should not be making political statements that are in violation of the oath taken by the military personnel.
“I think if the government has something to say, then a respective minister should come out and say it … we respect our institutions and don’t want to see them being made controversial in any way,” said he what could be described as his Jawab-e-Shikwa.
Indeed, he is right to tell IK that he should not be making the military spokesperson give a political statement,” he said while turning Prime Minister Imran Khan into his line of fire. When asked if his party backs the PTM, he said, “Our party only supports the PPP alone.
However, if other political groups stand for democracy and human rights then we back these ideas.” PPP would stand by its principles, safeguard 18th amendment, oppose presidential form of government, say no to military courts and remain stead fast in support of freedom of press and democracy.
Prime Minister would do well if he listens to Bilawal’s advice to ensure that not an unrelated army personnel but his relevant Ministers speak with regard to issues related to their ministries, their failures or their achievements and not to let proxy spokesman defend the government as was seen in ISPR presser.
It is a sad commentary on the way affairs of the civil government are being run having no say or control on domestic or foreign affairs. There is no sense of direction, IK is sleeping with so many in bed that he does not know who has the real power. The chaos that is shrouding the country in a pall of inertia is a manifestation of a diarchy and not democracy.
No doubt time and again General Ghafoor has reiterated that democracy is on track in Pakistan, it has support of all state institutions more so the military and that no one would be allowed to topsy turvey the democratic applecart.
This should be overly reassuring for Imran Khan notwithstanding his government’s total failure to deliver in a state of economy that is going bust with one dollar equal to Rs 140/- to Pakistani rupee. As opposed to this re-assurance by DG ISPR on behalf of the Establishment, there is a lethal perception about the state of affairs in Pakistan that need urgently to be corrected.
Bilawal is right when he calls the IK government as selected since it is powerless and anorchously incapable in delivery. And when General Ghafoor speaks on foreign affairs, law and order, education etc—it is transgressing his own mandate as a military officer.
A former PTI stalwart, like Bilawal has expressed his exception repeatedly in the past that every time DG ISPR holds his press conference the impression one gets is that he is acting as an interior or information minister. His latest press conference was no different in which he spoke about education policy, foreign policy, social policy, and provincial affairs.
He seems to be converting the military into a political party and running a parallel government. Surely such a situation is extremely alarming and there is some meat among political pundits to apprehended danger of security implosion in case the perception continues that a chessboard is being set for doing away of the 18thAmendment and imposition of Presidential system.
Reverting back to General Ghafoor’s warning to PTM that its time is up and that he has enough evidence of its being funded from foreign powers hostile to Pakistan, the right course would be to make a reference to the Supreme Court as suggested by the PTM leaders to put the record straight. Since they are denied free press or public appearances to put their point of view across, such outbursts of allegations would remain high-sounding voices signifying nothing.
Imran Khan has a mandate for five years, none of the opposition parties want to cut short his tenure. What is adversely impacting his performance besides imbecility of his ministers, are perceptions doing the round regarding the tenure of the army chief though he is reported to have said that he would not seek an extension. However, what needs to be dispelled is that there are no two prime ministers—one de facto and the other de jure.
Disclaimer: Surkhiyan believes in freedom of expression and providing space for views and opinions from all sides. But we may not agree with everything we publish. The views expressed in this piece are that of the author and do not reflect the views of Surkhiyan. We do not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.