Mistakes are Made But the Lessons aren’t Learnt – II

By Sohail ParwazJhangir karamt

Relieving General Karamat was a blunder that was not appreciated even by his senior and seasoned colleagues. Sartaj Aziz was one of them who was extremely confident and certain that CGS General Ali Kuli Khan would be appointed as the Chief of Army Staff based on his seniority, merit, among a very competent officer, and next in seniority to General Karamat. Sartaj Aziz in his book, Between Dreams and Realities: Some Milestones in Pakistan’s History, writes:

“Blunder of firing of General Karamat; others will blame Nawaz Sharif for many mistakes he made. But in my view, the most serious of these mistakes was Nawaz Sharif’s decision to remove General Jahangir Karamat as chief of army staff in October 1998. In relieving General Jahangir Karamat, Prime Minister Sharif had committed a “blunder”. He also failed to recognize that despite his heavy mandate, it was not advisable for him to dismiss two army chiefs in less than a year. In doing so he had overplayed his hands and effectively derailed the democratic process for nine long years”.

It was quite amusing to see PMLN raising its voice for the judiciary’s freedom in 2007 especially when a decade earlier when Nawaz Sharif was summoned by the then Supreme Court for contempt, the party workers attacked the SC and the chief justice Sajjad Ali Shah, instead in 1997 http://tune.pk/video/2704106/nawaz-sharif-attack-on-supreme-court-a-rear-footage%C2%A0part4 . By now Sharif’s love lost for his own choice Musharraf was also over. Soon he was seen taking the first available flight for Saudi Arabia.

A renowned Political scientist Dr. Samina Ahmed once noted that since his re-elect in 1997 and success of passing the constitutional amendments, Prime Minister Sharif began to abuse his powers since then. She later quoted that: “During his time, Sharif was a very powerful prime minister since the country’s independence. Power is tangible when you can exercise it. In Pakistan, the (Nawaz) Government doesn’t seem capable of exercising it”.

The keen observers noted a mark change in their inclination and political behavior when in April 2009, while ignoring and violating all the diplomatic, political, democratic and the security norms of an independent sovereignty, the Sharif Brothers visited the US Embassy. The alarming fact was that no party member accompanied them. The other issue is haste in developing extremely friendly relations with India while shoving most sensitive Kashmir issue into the dusty draws. According to Wilson John of the Observer Research Foundation, Pakistani Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani also told Sharif in his initial days to go slow on friendly relations with India. One wonders if elder Sharif has paid any heed to the advice.

Right now the situation is that Mian Nawaz Sharif is in the office for his third term, a rare event, at least in democratically mature nations. Almost a year of his term has been passed but he is yet not over with the ‘preliminaries’. Apart from the other blunders the glaring one is siding against his own picked army chief General Raheel Sharif; a seasoned, balanced and mature professional. How could one expect from any sane person to turn against his most important security organisations to side with a controversial and petty paltry television channel which is under thick clouds for his black mailing tactics and mudslinging? If the period that Mian Nawaz Sharif has in the office during all the three terms is totaled, it comes to more or less seventy-six months or around six years and four months; a considerable period to deliver goods but the disappointed nation is seeing nothing except the loud mouth campaigns and of course a tussle a term.

The government of Nawaz Sharif has probably forgotten that during his second term in the office, in July 1998, his government started a campaign against the Jang group when it refused to sack a number of journalists critical of the government policies. First, the government objected to the Jang group newspapers’ reporting about the law and order situation in the country and put a ban on its advertisement for the Jang group. The irony is that sixteen years later they are standing hands in hands against an organisation which is there to serve the nation at a short notice, may that be an earthquake, a flood or a famine. The principle is that, a political party and a television channel with doubtful credentials and allegiances cannot connive to destroy the most important security institutions of Pakistan. It’s time for Mian Nawaz Sharif to readjust his priorities, before it is too late. Wonder if he knows about Modi the back street boy’s mentality, who is going to call the shots in India from now on.

It reminds me of that famous and stubborn mule whose regiment would adoringly call him Sheriff (the police officer) and who would energetically participate in the war but was in the bad habit of severely kicking the soldiers for nothing, hence killing them. When the war was over people visited a graveyard to pay homage to the deceased soldiers. People were reading the names on the tombstones when at the end of the graves they found a marble stone with inscription, “Sheriff the mule is resting here, who kicked forty soldiers and an artillery gun-shell”.

Marjane Satrapi said and I quote, “When we’re afraid, we lose all sense of analysis and reflection. Our fear paralyzes us. Besides, fear has always been the driving force behind all dictators’ repression.” Let’s decide before it gets too late that what we have to keep; a dictatorial rule or a democracy? The two cannot go together, in any case. As a matter of fact no two can go together. The armed forces are there to support their government and the public but one must not forget that they do need the word of encouragement and not the bashing. Morale boosting is the best gift that they can have. Have we gone that bank corrupt that we are reluctant to raise their morale?


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