The Military Bashing
The Pakistan Army enjoys a unique position of love and trust which it has acquired from the people of Pakistan. The Army is looked upon as part of the solution to all problems, a panacea, an “AmritDhara” as most of its ranks from a soldier to a general belong to the class which has its roots in the public. Today we find a definite effort to make it look as part of all problems. The international media then local media, a few politicians and now unfortunately government officials have joined the chorus. Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan while talking to a private channel said, Gen. Ashfaque Pervez Kayani has kept himself away from politics but people like Gen. Pasha still exist in the army which needs to be purged. While speaking on Balochistan he criticized the law enforcers more than condemning the terrorist.
On the Karachi situation his comments again focused on the army and he did show his reservations on the public appealing to the Army Chief for peace in Karachi and called it an insult to the Parliament. The virus of Army bashing has spread deep and wide. 150.000 officers and men have been fighting the enemies of state in Swat, Bajaur, South Waziristan and North Waziristan for the last so many years. Over 5000 soldiers have been martyred and 20.000 injured. How many word of sympathy from political leaders, government functionaries or media, not a single visit by President, the Commander-in-Chief, the Prime Minister, any other minister, senator or MNA, negligible condolence meetings. No good wishes or moral support for soldiers and officers or their bereaved families. Army knows that it draws moral sustenance from civil society and other pillars. Despite all this army keeps receiving a wave of criticism even from local players which remains far from truth but it dares to remain silent.
The Army has to accept a partial blame of getting into such a position . Indifference of the Army has been palpable and conspicuous . It never took cognizance of the changing mode of the civil society and the government. It has never tried to educate the civil society or challenge the recalcitrant and tormentors, cultivate the media or access the establishment, politicians and other stake holders. The simplistic view of only guarding the frontiers and not watching the psychological aspect of warfare hitting the local is a negligence for which it is paying.
However it remains a question that who had to guard their soldiers against such propaganda and is it not asking too much from army to accord physical as well as psychological protection. We find few a Pakistanis playing with the enemies to make us believe that the Army is a financial drag on national economy. It consumes largest chunk of budget at the cost of health, education, infrastructure and civic amenities for the public.
Dr Farrukh in his article “Military”holds the figure to prove that major portions are eaten by debt servicing, subsidy to public sector enterprises and Public Sector Development Programmes. He neglected to mention massive leakage through corruption, inefficiency and incompetence. The three services all together is consuming only 17 percent of all government expenditure, and only 2.5 percent of GDP brought down from 3.6 percent over a decade.
According to Dr Farrukh, more than fifty countries are spending greater Coalition Support Fund, while the fact is that Army has received less than two billion Dollars out of ten billion Dollars released by US Government. Mubashar Luqman in his program proves India is Pakistan centric through the deployments of Indian army and yet few Pakistanis are made to criticize Army being India centric. The ratio of defence budget between India and Pak was 1-3 ratio but now this ratio has become 1-6. The reason is that budget was reduced to 18 percent and if we keep doing this under the misperception of the ones who keep working on personal business interests at cost of national interests will we not compromise on our defence. A part of society , bureaucrats, politicians and so called intelligentsia grudge Army’s indulgence in commercial activities.
Facts are twisted, lies fed to the public that commercial enterprises of Army are subsidized by state, that Army is exempted from paying duties and taxes, that such indulgence adversely affects operational readiness. Army has never tried to defend itself or educate the public. Defense Housing Authorities and Askari Housing Schemes are maligned to no limit. Housing authorities are blamed for acquiring State land at throw away prices. The land for these schemes are purchased from open market Housing Schemes provide decent living to retired officers and men. The management skills of these society with clean and fraud less environment tend to raise the prices of plots through open market system. Each army person pays for his plot and its development charges . Army Housing Schemes and Defense Housing Authorities are criticized, yet most dream of living in the areas, because of its clean ambiance, safety and security, civic amenities.
Few know that Army’s indulgence in commercial activities is motivated by the urge of providing welfare to retired-personnel who retire at an early age of 40-45 years. It does not affect preparedness for war. Officers and men on active duty are not posted to these concerns. “Great nations know that value of a school teacher is more than a general in peace time and in war a Sepoy assumes priority over vice chancellor of university therefore they invest in both to uphold sovereignty and integrity of the nation”. To our unfortunate luck we fail to condemn those who are destroying our schools and are ensuring a dark future of the coming generation. However, we keep falling prey to foreign propaganda in criticizing the ones who are fighting and sacrificing their today for our tomorrow not realizing their job is different. To move towards the bullet when it leaves the enemy’s barrel.