By Farman Nawaz (unpublished article)
Military sources of Pakistan Army have denied the extension in tenure of DG ISI Lieutenant General Ahmad Shuja Pasha. The sources said that Army Chief does not have this authority. Supreme Commander of Pakistan Army, the president of Pakistan, enjoys this authority to decide the extension of DG ISI. Sources of Defense Ministry informed that President House has received a summary of extension in tenure of Shuja Pasha. Now President Zardari has the last authority to decide. There are rumors of Zardari’s meeting with Musharaf in UAE. If it is true than it means that there is some kind of bargaining and understanding. Perhaps Zardari can insist on military role in support of NRO.
This year Chairman joint Chief of Staff General Tariq Majid and Chief of Army General Ishfaq Pervez Kiyani will retire. Along with this top leadership of Army 12 Lieutenant Generals are also going to retire. DG ISI will retire on 18th of March. However, it is said that government has decided not to change the leadership of ISI because of the changing scenario of war on terror. It is guessed that Pasha will get one-year extension.
Normally it is a negative trend to extend the tenure of military officers. It shows lack of new leadership in the circles of army. But it is fact that Pakistan army has one of the best training system to create strong and organized military leadership. Pakistan army also has an effective and reliable system of promotion of officers. Pakistan army has the best system of consultation from lower level to core commanders’ conference.
This system assures that individuals’ losses cannot affect Pakistan army. However, this time the situation is very complex. There is an aspect that compels to extend the tenure of the present leadership of Pakistan army. This aspect is the new mentality of Pakistan army, the mentality that encouraged Pakistan army to stand against the evil intentions of America in the region. It is a unique situation never faced by Pakistan army and common Pakistanis.
Under the leadership of Musharaf, this change of mentality occurred and the officers that helped Musharaf to reorganize Pakistan army, is this present leadership of Army. This changed mentality needs continuation to be strengthened. Now Pakistan army is in search of new support to stand against imperialist designs of America. If this present leadership is not permitted to continue, so the change will be a temporary one, because America has strong roots in Pakistan army and Pakistani bureaucracy.
In the course of war on terror, Pakistan army has seen different phases. Inside army, there are two groups. One is the liberal that was strengthen under Musharaf while other one is conservative that was created under the leadership of Zia and his fellows. Conservative approach is basically derived from the pre-partition politics of India but Zia gave it a shape of Jihad. A strange jihad sponsored by American and in the last Pakistan got nothing as booty.
When a nation changes its attitude and ideology, it needs decades to see its fruits. Pakistan army has recently changed its conservative approach and finds its survival in establishing its relation with regional players. It needs time and dedicated leadership. If we look at Russia, we see continuation of policies. Putin is in power for almost a decade. Americans have seen their recent presidents, twice in power. Ahmadi Nijad, Hamid Karzai and Monmohan Singh are again selected for second term. Musharaf had also tried to stay in power but American sponsored Judiciary restoration movement made the situation worse for him and at that time Monmohan Singh cancelled his visit to Pakistan. The nation should think about it. Zardari also tried to keep his promise with Musharaf but in vain. However, Zardari played his cards well and still he is in power.
But it is said that the present government is the continuation of Musharaf period. Zardari continued war on terror and tried to keep the judiciary in limit by divining the lawyers’ movement. Now army is the main deriving force of Pakistani politics. The present government of secular parties is also a gift of Musharaf. This secular leadership of Pakistan army must be there to curb Talibanization and to support secular segments of Pakistani society. Recently the voters of Rawalpindi rejected conservative parties like Jamat-e-Islami and Tehriq-e-Insaf. Muslim League N has conservative elements but regarding India, they have moderate approach.
It is a kind of transitional period in Pakistani politics and for this reason, a constant and dedicated struggle is desirable. This continuation of policies is only possible if the present government and military leadership get enough time to make this change possible.