Pakistan’s security dilemma

Courtesy:-  GEN (R) MIRZA ASLAM BEG

During the last fifty years, various Pakistani regimes have used the Army with impunity to control political dissent in various areas of the country. There are ten such instances where the Army re-established control over the areas, but the governments failed to establish their writ, with the result that these regions have gradually slipped into disorder. Balochistan is one such example, where the Army launched five operations, but civil administration never established administrative control. The areas of Swat, Dir, Bajaur, Waziristan and Balochistan, more or less, have been under the Army’s control ever since.

The first army action was launched in 1959 in Balochistan by General Ayub Khan. I commanded a Special Forces company there as a Captain. Similarly, in 1962 during the Dir operation, I commanded the same Special Forces Company. In 1971, as part of 9 Division, we flew to East Pakistan and together with forces present there, established control over the entire area of East Pakistan within a period of five months, but the civil administration lagged behind, creating a vacuum quickly exploited by the enemy which led ultimately, to fall of Decca. In 1974-75, I commanded an Infantry Brigade in Mari-Bugti areas. In April 1975, late PM Zulfikar Ali Bhutto visited my formation and promised to establish administrative authority there, but unfortunately he lost control over the events. It is because of these failings that we now stand at a dangerous cross-roads, where national security is seriously threatened.
The dharna or political dissent now being staged by Imran Khan and Tahir ul Qadri at Islamabad has entered into its fifth week. They have challenged the Constitution; have desecrated the National Assembly, and are demanding the Prime Minister’s resignation and fresh elections. Negotiations have failed, creating an impasse which has kept the entire nation in a state of frustration and despair. Out of this despair has grown a feeling of intense resentment in the minds of some people whom I had the chance to meet recently at a family gathering. I approached an old colleague of mine and asked him: “General, I hope all is well with you and the family?” In reply, he said, “Our home is burning and so is my heart. Yes, all is well.” I couldn’t say a word and moved away to another group of friends, who were discussing the Dharna. One of them asked me a direct question. “The two mavericks from Punjab have declared war against the government, the Constitution and the Parliament; yet the army is watching the fun here while operating full force against the tribals in the North. Why?” I replied saying that Pakistan was the target of a global conspiracy which wanted the army to get more and more involved internally and destabilize the government. The following day, I read this declaration by the Peshawar Union of Journalists:
“The tribals have always supported Pakistan and the Army, but due to the bad policies of the present and previous governments, it is the tribals who have suffered most. More than two million people from North and South Waziristan have been uprooted from their hearth and home, have been turned into refugees in their own homeland and are facing immense suffering. They all want to go back home. Therefore we demand that their request be granted within a week, otherwise we will stage a march towards Islamabad in the thousands to set up a dharna, which will not be lifted till we are allowed to return to our homes.”
While I have been thinking about the consequences of this declaration, I read the remarks of a senior and reputable journalist in today’s paper and have been shaken by the extreme state of his despair. He writes:
“My tribal background is urging me to extreme action, while better sense is restraining me. Some of our institutions and individuals are forcing me to follow my tribal instincts to revolt, to take up arms and move into the mountains and show to the world, and particularly to those staging ‘a song and music soap opera’ at D-chowk, what a real revolt and revolution means- when heads will roll and the tormentors will meet their fate.”
Pakistan stands at a dangerous cross-roads where the drum-beats of revolt, revolution and conspiracy are getting louder. The situation demands serenity of judgment, political vision, unity of thought and action and a lion’s heart. Parliament stands united, with a strong political will to defeat such machinations against Pakistan. It is also cognizant of an international conspiracy, emanating from London, Washington, Ottawa and Tehran, whose agents have taken Parliament hostage. And the second conspiracy openly declared by Washington in 2010, that a sum of US$ 1.4 billion was allocated for the “perception management of the Pakistani nation,” has also taken its toll by splitting the nation into liberals/secularists and moderate Muslims. The recent decision of the KPK Government to change the religious curriculum of our schools into a secular one, is one such example.
Our Parliament is sovereign. It is the custodian of our values, faith, belief and traditions, and is responsible for taking bold actions, to emerge stronger, and to establish the solid foundations of a democratic order, capable of dealing with all conspiracies and threats.

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