Military bashing by media

By Asif Haroon Rajaindia go bsck

Indian spin masters in league with other adversaries of Pakistan are deeply involved in bringing a bad name to Pakistan and its premier institutions through a calculated psychological war since 2002. 9/11 had given an opportunity to India to conduct proxy war against Pakistan using Afghan soil. Covert war designed to destabilize Pakistan and force it to accept India as the regional hegemon was supplemented by massive propaganda war aimed at discrediting Pakistan and its premier institutions. Indo-US-Israeli-Western media war was buttressed by a segment of Pak media. Pak Army and ISI, the two bottlenecks in the way of their goals were made the butt of ridicule and slander.

Aysha Saddiqa wrote a highly critical book against Pak Army. Main objective of her book ‘Military Inc-2007’ was to perpetrate friction, cause dissent amongst ranks of armed forces and to encourage revolt. In her jaundiced opinion, Pak Army was the root cause of social disparity and democratic fiasco. Asma Jahangir and her types launched a defamatory campaign to undermine the image of the Army on totally fabricated charges of extra judicial killings in Swat operations. Stories like discovery of mass graves and throwing down militants from helicopters were figment of imagination. Pseudo patriots appear on TV shows and talk crap. Every article published in English newspapers on Pakistani politics portrays late Gen Ziaul Haq negatively and hold him responsible for all the ills in the society. Of late it has become fashionable to badmouth Army chiefs. Hidden objective is to discredit Army as an institution. Gen Musharraf bashing is being done with this aim in view.

Hamid Mir, the leading anchor of Geo TV has always been carrying a grudge against the ISI because his paymasters, America and India, are unhappy with this organization. Following in the footsteps of Indian policy, Mir also puts all the crimes at the doorsteps of Army or ISI. Mir had held ISI responsible for the murder of journalist Saleem Shehzad without furnishing proof. US raid in Abbottabad on May 2, 2011 was exploited to the hilt by him. Even now when he is lying in bed recuperating, in response to a TV anchors question, he retorted as to what the Army had done to safeguard its honor on May 2. He has been pursuing missing persons issue in Balochistan frenetically simply because the Supreme Court under Iftikhar Chaudhri had been showing softness towards the separatists, kidnappers and target killers and strictness towards the FC/ ISI laboring hard to safeguard Balochistan. For him, former are saints and latter devils.

India is arming its Army, air defence, navy, air force to teeth. It is purchasing latest weaponry and defence technology from the advanced world and has become the top buyer of arms from Russia, Israel, USA, Britain and France to bolster its military capability. Its defence expenditure is increasing rapidly since 1990. Military muscles are being built to cow down all South Asian States particularly Pakistan and emerge as the unchallenged regional power and a global power. The US is committed to make India a world power. India has never hid its imperialist and expansionist designs and considers Pakistan to be its arch rival and the sole stumbling block in the path of its imperialist ambitions.

Contrary to Indian military buildup, Pakistan’s defence budget is modest and has been declining rather than increasing in the last one decade. Currently it is at 5% of GDP, and 15% of national budget. India’s current defence budget is $42 billion and that of Pakistan $7 billion. Instead of getting worried about India’s massive rise in defence budget each year and its feverish rush to procure latest art-of-weapon systems, and its dangerous designs against Pakistan, India’s fans in Pakistan are worried about Pakistan’s defence budget. Some cunningly insist that armed forces consume over 80% of the total federal budget and state that defence budget should be radically cut.

Paid anchors and participants of talk shows shamelessly say that soldiers are paid to serve and die at Siachin. Hamid Mir and some other anchors and journalists are angry why a soldier deserves a plot. While the politicians, pseudo intellectuals and segment of media hate Army and miss no opportunity to degrade its image, all and sundry expectantly look towards the Army to step in and save the country from ruination. For every natural and manmade calamity the rulers and the people look toward the Army and the Army always live up to their expectations. The men of steel handle the monumental tasks with utmost efficiency and at the peril of their lives. They are relentlessly and courageously fighting the foreign trained and equipped militants in FATA/PATA and Balochistan and are continuing to fight them despite suffering over 5000 fatalities and injuries to over 20,000. Large numbers have been crippled for life.

Does Pakistan have any other force or institution which is as disciplined and effective in providing speedy help in the face of man-made and natural calamities? Whenever the frontiers come under threat, the armed forces rush to the border. Army never makes excuses of resource constraints or impossibility of the mission assigned. While it clashed with five-time superior Indian military in the 1948, 1965 and 1971 wars, and in Rann of Katch and Kargil conflicts, it faced India’s military standoffs in 2002 and in 2009 squarely. Troops deployed along the Line of Control in Kashmir are keeping Indian Army’s aggression in check since 1948. The Army is defending the Siachen Glacier for the last 30 years resolutely. Troops are fighting the militants and also occupying over 1100 isolated border posts along the most hazardous Pak-Afghan border to prevent cross border movement. ISI is resolutely facing the wrath of combined strength of CIA, MI-6, Mosad, RAW, NDS, BND since 2002 and has failed their hundreds of plots. Like in 1989, ISI’s role in forcing US led forces in Afghanistan to quit by end of this year cannot be disregarded. In fact the US military holds Pakistan responsible for its defeat.

Soldiers serving in icy Siachen and Northern Areas, burning hot deserts of Sindh and inhospitable terrain of FATA and Balochistan weren’t born there. They don’t have any personal enmity with India, or Afghanistan, or militants. They are there only for you, me and our beloved Motherland. In Siachin, temperatures in winters fall down to minus 70 degrees Celsius. It receives 6 to 7 meters of the annual of total meters of snow in winters. Snowstorms reach the speed of 150 knots. Large numbers of soldiers have contracted critical lung diseases due to lack of oxygen and lost their limbs due to frost bite. In Gyari, the entire military camp came under an avalanche in the summer of 2011 and not a single soldier survived. It took over a year’s effort to dig out their bodies and hand them to their next of kin.

Soldiers live an extremely tough and hazardous life and remain ever ready to sacrifice their lives both in peace and war. Their performance is watched and tested by hawkish seniors every year and held accountable for even a minor lapse, and at times inadvertent slip. Having given their best to the military in their prime age, over 80% retire young at the age of 40-50 years when their family obligations are at their peak. Majority remain deprived of a job making it difficult for them to lead a decent life. In comparison, their compatriots in the civil leading an easy life and indulging in all sorts of wrong practices, manage to get promoted and attain highest ranks. They retire at the age of 60 years by which time most of their family obligations like education and marriages of children are taken care of. Politicians enter the corridors of power without any moral, physical and educational training and consider it their right to milk the nation with both hands. Their slogan of sacrificing their lives for the sake of Pakistan is mere rhetoric. While living within red and green zones, they keep building walls of security around them and travel in bulletproof cars escorted by security guards. Their sole aim in life is to remain in power and earn ill-gotten wealth and groom their wards to perpetuate dynastic rule.

There are so many very young widows and tender age orphans left behind by the Shaheeds. Although the Army honors the Shuhada by holding Yaum-e-Shuhada every year, takes care of the widows and orphans and respects the Ghazis, but a well-paid small anti-Army group prefers to spew venom. It pains the serving and retired soldiers to watch the media indulging in malicious campaign and presenting a wrongful picture merely to please their paymasters. The Army and ISI in particular is lambasted despite the fact that Pak Army is rated as the best in the world and the ISI has been rated as number one among the top ten intelligence agencies of the world. The media rather than appreciating the sacrifices of the defenders of Pakistan, building the image of armed forces, and improving civil-military relations, it plays a negative role. Can anyone in India including Indian media dare demonize Indian Army, Army chief or RAW?

For the first time the people have come out in the streets all over the country in support of the Army and ISI. They want strict disciplinary action against pro-India Jang-Geo channel but the government for unknown reasons is dithering and inadvertently giving an impression as if it is supporting the media house rather than the Army. It will be in fitness of things to discipline the berserk media and bridle up Jang-Geo Group for the wrong it has been doing against Pakistan Army and ISI and particularly the calculated 8-hour program it aired on April 19 to demonize ISI.

The writer is a retired Brig, defence analyst/columnist/book writer and Director MEASAC Research Centre.

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