By Farman Nawaz
Armies never try to open several fronts and Pak-Army also wished to do so by playing the double game but today it is facing confrontation on ideological and strategic fronts.
There was a time in Pakistan when it was not possible to write or speak against the army however today leaving aside some aspects like patriotism and bravery of army, its every aspect is under criticism and while the Pakistan People’s Party emerges as the main partisan of Pak-Army, it is severely targeted. Awami National Party, the ally of PPP, also supports army but cautiously it also criticizes the policy of ‘Good’ and ‘Bad’ Taliban. While Mollana fazal ur Rehman leader of JUI publicly asserts that army must be supported at the time when it is under intense pressure. Altaf Hussian the leader of the MQM has also once invited the patriotic generals to takeover the reigns of the government. All these four parties, having their strong vote bank too, want to stay in power with the support of army.
It is believed that the condemnation of army is a start of wave of change in Pakistan. As this criticism is taken as positive trend in Pakistan that is why army is really confused amid bombardment of words. If on one side the army chief is trying to satisfy his angry officers, on the other side he has to face the international pressure. It is a very strange situation that army has never faced. A similar situation persisted thirty years back but at that time army could not satisfy the angry Pakistanis of today’s Bangladesh. Today though the situation is in control but now there are many question marks that army will have to get rid of.
Looking at the type of criticism against army we can classify the critics. Nawaz Sharif, since he came back to Pakistan in 2007, has left no stone unturned to pass judgment on the issues relating to army or the areas where army is interfering. He also used to target those people whom army is protecting like Musharaf or people who defend army like Pakistan People’s Party. But examining carefully the criticism of Nawaz we see that he only concentrate on the areas where army is backing any politician. He did not try to condemn the army’s role in war on terror however he also did not condemn Taliban. It shows his inclination towards the fundamentalists and extremists. Nawaz never criticized army connections with Taliban. Though Nawaz claim to have an independent foreign policy and to say goodbye to alliance with US but in fact he just wants to be popular among public. Still he did not present the outlines of Independent foreign policy. Compelling army to get aside of politics and living under the shadows of fundamentalism is not independence at all. Nawaz Sharif criticism against army must be welcomed but it must not come at a time when Pakistan army is striving for its survival.
On external fronts we see that US is pressurizing Pakistan army for taking action against those elements that attack US installations. But in a way if US is pressurizing army from outside Nawaz is doing the same on internal side. Can we conclude that US and Nawaz are standing on the same side? Though Nawaz argument of banning the army involvement in politics is ideal and genuine but technically it helps US to blackmail and rip-off with the army losing internal support. The Jamat-e-Islami and Imran Khan criticism of Drone attacks falls in different category. Their criticism basically does not pressurize army but rather it adds to the army’s mode of bargaining with US. Secondly rallies against Drone attacks if on one side help army to have an upper hand in negotiations with US, on the other side it popularizes these politicians among public which raises hue and cry against Drone attacks.
Indian criticism has different logic. India wishes to compel Pakistan army to withdraw its support from those terrorists which wants to liberate Kashmir by arm struggle. Secondly India also wishes to have strong relations with Afghanistan where Pakistani establishment has worked for almost thirty years. But Indian criticism adds fuel to American pressure and it creates anti-Indian sentiments here in Pakistan. Though apparently India and Pakistan seems competitors on Afghan soil but logically Indian presence in Afghanistan can be a blessing for Pakistan and Pakistan can earn a lot from India by allowing India to pass through Pakistan. India also wishes to have a peaceful Pakistan in its neighborhood. Here in Pakistan it’s a public perception that India wants to destabilize and divide Pakistan. However Pakistani media did not try to answer these wrong perceptions. Divided and destabilized Pakistan is a threat to the neighboring countries.
Pakistani journalists are also divided on the issues of war on terror, criticism against army, and role of Taliban. Many analysts defend the bloodthirsty Taliban and criticize army for taking action against Taliban. They try to hide behind religious and cultural covering. They wish to bring back army on the old track of Jihadi era. This kind of criticism helps them to bring the religious minded people close to fundamentalists. Basically they also wish to strengthen those segments within army which are considered the champions of Jihadi era. Pak-Army must classify the critics of Pakistani establishment. It will help us to elaborate to the general masses what are the real threats to our solidarity. But sorry to say Still Pak-army did not differentiate between our real enemies and perceived enemies and that is the reason that even journalists seem enemy to them. It is a fact that we must condemn those journalists who are still living in the cold war era but the critics who wish to elaborate the real causes of our downfall must not be killed and tortured.