By Farman Nawaz (Daily Outlook Afghanistan)
Normally it is a negative trend to extend the tenure of military officers. It shows lack of new leadership in the circles of army. However, it is fact that Pakistan army has one of the best training systems to create strong and organized military leadership. Pakistan army also has an effective and reliable system of promotion of officers and 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 Jihadi elements and international players 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 International players. If this present leadership is not permitted to continue, so the change will be a temporary one, because International players have strong roots in Pakistani 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 Judiciary restoration movement made the situation worse for him. However, Zardari played his cards well and in spite of many intrigues still he is in power.
It is said that the present Pakistani government is the continuation of Musharaf period. Zardari continued war on terror and still army is the main deriving force of Pakistani politics. But 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. 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. Many writers here in Pakistan argue that changing Generals in war is usual and it happened many times in the past. But they have forgotten one point that in all those examples the nation was not divided but here in Pakistan the situation is different. Still many people support Taliban and extremism. Still many army officers are extremist in nature and they wish to see their same old golden period. General Kiyani is needed to strengthen the new changed mentality of Pakistan army. Otherwise, any general can win wars. Winning war against extremist is not a problem for Pakistan army but this changed mentality needs continuation of the same leadership.
Though there are flaws but present military and political leadership of Pakistan is making new history of the subcontinent. Pakistan’s coming closer to India, China, Iran and Afghanistan is the clear indication of new Pakistan. Pakistani leadership is eager to have friendly relations with India. But Jihadi elements are so strong in Pakistan that regarding India taking sudden U turns can destabilize the Pakistan. That is the reasons that present government is moving slowly but consistently towards India. The recent Pak-Afghan trade agreement is a move towards India Pakistan friendly relations. There are many complexities here in Pakistan that is why whatever is agreed in Pak-Afghan agreement, is enough for the time being.
Jihadi elements create many ifs and buts in our relations with India that is the reason that Pakistani leadership is closing itself to China to make these elements ineffective permanently. Besides China, India will be our next partner in future. This sentence may make many people laugh but it seems that the destiny is written in this way. On the surface of globe, where nations are living peacefully with each other, is usual and natural. But the arising of differences among nations and then leading towards war is also quite natural. However, enmity prolonging for decades and colliding our horns for six decades has put a question mark on our “Eastern wisdom”. We will have to live here in this part of the world for centuries. Subcontinent was a land of diversities but these diversities painted the picture of harmony. Now the same old harmony is the real destination of the people of India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.