News Analysis |
Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa has, yet again, stated that Pakistan’s enemies are trying their best to divide and weaken the country. General Bajwa was delivering a speech at the passing-out parade of cadets at the Pakistan Military Academy in Kakul when he said that, “Our enemies know that they cannot beat us fair and square and have thus subjected us to a cruel, evil and protracted hybrid war. They are trying to weaken our resolve by weakening us from within.”
Army Chief was referring to a newly-launched movement that is intended to voice for the rights of Pakhtun people. He has already cautioned the nation and leaders of the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) in his speeches, at Peshawar and Rawalpindi, on Thursday that “no anti-state agenda would be allowed under the garb of those protests”.
When indigenous groups decide to stand up against the state, they are, as history confirms, also backed by external enemies. Pakistan, therefore, needs to manage her ethnic diversity ensuring political representation and economic development so that order and stability in the society remain functional.
The PTM initially demanded the immediate arrest of Rao Anwar, former SSP who allegedly murder an aspiring model Naqeebullah Mehsud in a staged encounter, and removal of landmines from FATA. But with the passage of time, as the movement got some momentum their demands also became politically perilous in nature. For example, the PTM leadership believes the Former Army Chief Pervez Musharraf is responsible for their alleged genocide.
They want him to be prosecuted. The PTM leadership also demands ‘international guarantees’ if the state of Pakistan signs any agreement with them. These demands have damaged the status of PTM as a youth-based indigenous movement. It has now allegedly become a tool in the hands of western media that is already trying to pressurize Pakistan to get their objectives in Afghanistan and Pakistan fulfilled.
Interestingly, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) released a selection of video testimonials of the graduates that included some cadets the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) who talked about the contributions of the Army in restoring peace and normality to their areas. The purpose was essentially to challenge and refute the narrative being established by the PTM that people of FATA have no basic rights and are being exploited. There were 67 cadets from Balochistan and 31 from FATA, who got commissioned in service at the ceremony.
The Army Chief also appreciated the prevailing cultural diversity in Pakistani society and termed it as “Pakistan’s strength”. He said “we also refuse to be pulled asunder on issues of sect, ethnicity, caste or creed. The diversity of Pakistan is our strength. The very resilience of Pakistan comes, not just from our military capacity, but from the synergetic mix of a people who have come together, willingly towards a single purpose.”
The PTM leadership also demands ‘international guarantees’ if the state of Pakistan signs any agreement with them. These demands have damaged the status of PTM as a youth-based indigenous movement.
The State of Pakistan and particularly its military establishment are accused of exploiting smaller provinces and marginalizing Pakhtun and Baloch ethnicities. General Bajwa rejected such claims and assured both Pakistani nation and the ‘protestors’ that Pakistan is a multi-ethnic country. He exerted that this diversity is the beauty and strength of Pakistan.
He also commented on the success in counter terrorism operations and credited the success to “the willing sacrifices and matchless courage of our people in general and Pashtun tribesmen of KP and FATA in particular”. He further explained that “As a result of past and ongoing operations, Pakistan has eliminated almost all organized terrorist presence and infrastructure from its soil. We are now going after the residual and scattered traces of this menace under the banner of Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad.”
Read more: The FATA conundrum
Diversity as Challenge?
Diversity is, if properly managed, a real beauty and strength of any society. But developing states like Pakistan has to be very careful while managing diversity and maintaining their socio-political order. Such developing states face two fold threat; internal as well as external. In the present case Pakistani society is being divided in the name of ethnicity which is greatly destabilizing the country. When indigenous groups decide to stand up against the state, they are, as history confirms, also backed by external enemies. Pakistan, therefore, needs to manage her ethnic diversity ensuring political representation and economic development so that order and stability in the society remain functional.