Shaukat Qadir |
Soon after the investigations of the JIT began to extend to, virtually, the entire Sharif family and became increasingly intensive, rumors began surfacing to the effect that the army was unhappy with the PM and desirous of his ouster.
Rumors are very insidious. Since they usually begin with word-of-the mouth insinuations, it is impossible to trace their origins or veracity. However, once loosened, they acquire a life and veracity of their own. This is a mere statement of fact, not intended to refute, dispute, or acknowledge the veracity of this particular rumor.
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First, the decision to include representatives of the MI Directorate in GHQ and the ISI in the JIT was that of the SC. The reason for expanding this JIT to include serving military officers, while known only to the honorable justices was, ostensibly, so as to ensure that, not all JIT members were in the employ of the civil government. On the face of it, the decision seemed reasonable.
Second, while MI works under GHQ, the ISI is a state organ, under the PM. Its top-brass may have split loyalties due to being in uniform, and I have recommended its restructuring to this very end, it will not proceed on a tangent under present environments.
Third, despite the fact that, almost all complaints of the extended Sharif family were directed at the non-military members of the JIT, this rumor has continued to gather strength. While this may or may not be true, one reason for its spread is certainly the fact that any rumor about the involvement of GHQ in any ‘conspiracy theory’ will find supporters.
The rumor is fed by insinuations that the army has been and still is unhappy with the PM. Numerous reasons for this include that; Sharif refused an extension to Raheel, GHQ is unhappy about the conclusion of ‘Dawn Leaks’ and is unhappy with the way CPEC projects are being espoused, the Afghanistan and India policies etc.
Let me clarify here that I shed my uniform almost two decades ago. I am, therefore, long retired, tired and re-retired. While the army has changed in many ways since I am quite certain that some things remain unchanged.
While my opinion is that Raheel did not seek an extension, but here I might be in error. Nonetheless, however popular he might have been and despite the fact that many chiefs and generals have sought and received extensions, I am quite certain that almost no one, would be unhappy on Raheel’s retirement. And that his departure on the due date was appreciated as much by serving soldiers as by our general population.
On CPEC I have been voicing my concerns at this forum as well as others. I hold the considered view that our current execution of its projects is disastrous for future generations.
GHQ and all ranks are certainly unhappy with the manner in which ‘Dawn Leaks’ has concluded. But retired soldiers are far unhappier with the way GHQ has accepted the conclusion——-and the importance of that fact is not adverted to. And the retired out number serving soldiers many times over.
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On CPEC I have been voicing my concerns at this forum as well as others. I hold the considered view that our current execution of its projects is disastrous for future generations. And yes, this is the responsibility of the current government.
The PML(N) may have inherited a teetering economy after the indiscriminate loot by their predecessors and yes, they have improved upon the performance of their predecessor but far, far less than they could or should have. And indeed that is a failing.
Insight and foresight
Having said that, I must again reiterate my view that among the dirt-poor choices available on the political horizon, the PML(N) and the Sharif brethren do my country the least damage.
Imran Khan has not been tried yet since he chose to organize Dharnas on the national scene rather than run a province. While he enjoys a respectable following among serving and retired soldiers, I am not the Lone Ranger who thinks that, if given the opportunity, he will be our worst disaster.
And, while many were uncertain about CPEC related projects, their views began to solidify after some others who, like me, explained their concerns to the audience.
Since I have mentioned how long ago I retired, it is pertinent to mention that I still work for the National Defence University. This gives me an opportunity to interact with serving military officers of all three services of all ranks between Captain and General, including the chiefs; as well as civilian faculty and a smattering of civilian students.
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While post-retirement, I neither have nor ever will ask a chief if he is seeking the ouster of the PM but, from my interaction with officers of all ranks, I can state confidently that a fairly large number share my view on the PML(N). And, while many were uncertain about CPEC related projects, their views began to solidify after some others who, like me, explained their concerns to the audience.
Accusations of military interference in matters of foreign policy is a frequent complaint voiced by various segments of society. There was a time during the Zia-era and some years to follow when this was a matter of real concern.
I am not so sure it is today. All militaries all over the world provide input for foreign policy. Sometimes they disagree more forcefully than at other times. Sometimes militaries have their way; sometimes they don’t.
GHQ may be unhappy with Sharif but, in my view, will never seek his ouster. If Sharif decided to rebel against the SC decision, where would GHQ stand? I can’t say but, if my advice is sought, I will side with the law, even if it has erred.
If you wish to examine a country where the military establishment and the intelligence joint hands to hijack foreign policy decades ago and still have (almost) veto powers, visit Washington D.C.
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The bottom line? GHQ may be unhappy with Sharif but, in my view, will never seek his ouster. If Sharif decided to rebel against the SC decision, where would GHQ stand? I can’t say but, if my advice is sought, I will side with the law, even if it has erred.
Shaukat Qadir is a retired brigadier. He is also former vice president and founder of the Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI). This article was first published in Daily Times and is republished here with permission. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Global Village Space’s editorial policy.