By Ibrahim Khalil
It all started with a single Daily Beast article which I posted on my Facebook page and excerpted the following:
Pakistan’s bin Laden Scapegoat
Pakistani officials tell The Daily Beast that the head of Pakistan’s notorious intelligence service may step down, as the government looks for a fall guy for the bin Laden debacle.
“The senior Pakistani sources say that Pasha was never keen on the ISI job in the first place. He had no background in intelligence and was an infantry and armor officer in previous commands. He was, however, very close to Kayani, who insisted he take the job when he was nominated in 2008.”
Based on the above I commented:
This shows NEPOTISM at the highest level in military. Nothing less than Kyani’s head should roll.
This wasn’t the first time I had asked for accountability of army or for them to bear consequences of their actions so I was expecting some mild criticism. But the reaction was everything but mild. All the arguments that I have heard from my friends over so many years, were regurgitated and thrown at me with vehemence and vitriol for which I was not prepared at all.
1. First time in history Army and ISI are having a fist fight with USA and CIA. We can blame for bad things some other time. Kyani and Pasha are a threat of dirty American interests that is why US wants them removed.
Though I also had objection to his first statement, I just picked on his second statement. What do you mean this is not the right time? After 1971 debacle, this is the best time. The whole nation has seen that the army was sleeping and if we ask for reforms and accountability, the nation will support us. Army derives it support from the perception in the people that they can sleep peacefully at night because Pakistan Airforce (and other armed forces) are awake. The present incident shattered that myth. Its now or never.
2. The budget of Presidency is in hundreds of millions. A minister earns hundreds of thousands in a month.
Huh? Having faced similar arguments before, what the commentator was implying that why are you picking on army when there are such low hanging fruits as President and politicians. I let this one go by without a reply as I knew later I will get a more elaborate comment.
Then came something from quite a few friends at the same time which I had never faced in my years of arguments about Army.
3. If you are asking for accountability now you are an anti-state element and unpatriotic. Your bank balance needs to be checked how much funding you have received recently from US.
In Pakistan one gets used to various labels and ethnic slurs that are thrown at one but I was shocked at being such labels. At max, I was expecting to be labeled with the oxymoron liberal extremist but an anti-state element. This was a new low. What is this about receiving money? Till now, I thought only Army received money from US.
4. Army is the most professional institution and all soldiers that have reached this position are well qualified. General Shuja must be the most qualified person.
Yes. The most professional institution does not have a succession plan. It had to give General Kyani 3 years extension because he thought that no one below him is qualified enough to run the army. What professionalism? Then he appoints Shuja Pasha at ISI and gives him 3 years extension, not because he was most competent for that position but because he would be most loyal to him. Professionalism can kiss my ass.
But I may be wrong. Because a stint in army prepares you for every job in the world be it an ambassadorial position, CEO of public sector organizations orutility companies, administration and HR roles, running fertilizer and cereal plants, dean/director of universities, real estate agency and last but not least, security consultants to local and international organizations as well as experts on TV. You cannot learn such skills even at Harvard, Columbia, Wharton, Oxford, and/or LBS (#1 on FT Business school ranking and my alma mater 🙂 )
5. Corruption is only at the top. Captains, Major etc are good people.
One of the second most popular argument that I have heard over the years. The question is why these good people become corrupt when they reach the top. I have been hearing such arguments since I have started criticizing the institution and to me, this shows that the rot has set in deeply as all these good, selfless captains, majors etc become corrupt when they reach the top. If you are looking for one reason to reform the institution or introduce accountability, this alone is sufficient as it proves that good people become corrupt as they rise through the ranks.
6. The captains and majors have sacrificed a lot.
Is the army only one making sacrifices? What about the rest of nation which ‘ate grass’ and diverted resources from health, education, infrastructure etc so that this country can have a strong and impregnable defense. Aren’t their sacrifices worth anything? What about the price this nation has paid for the ‘strategic depth’ doctrine in terms of lawlessness, drug trade, etc? Are those sacrifices worthless or is a sacrifice only counted when it comes packaged in a khaki uniform?
Thank God, she didn’t say Generals and Lt. Generals have sacrificed a lot then I would have lost my cool.
7. Accountability of army does not even happen in developed countries. Accountability is only possible if other institutions are strong. This is a lame excuse that other institutions are weak because army keeps stepping on their feet.
Stanley McChrystal’s example was enough to debunk the first sentence. The second argument held its contradiction in itself. If army keeps on stepping into areas which are not its domain from foreign policy to bureaucracy to government to judiciary for most of the years this country has been in existence, how are those institutions ever expected to develop and be strengthened.
8. Leaving all the corrupt politicians in Pakistan, why are you after army alone? All (army and politicians) are dogs of same alley (eik hi gali ke kuttay hain) some bark more than the others, some bite more venomously than others.
You see in this country either politicians are corrupt or everyone is corrupt. There is no other possibility. You cannot call any segment of society professionals, businessmen, bureaucracy or God forgive me Army corrupt unless your statement is preceded by that fact that ‘all the politicians are corrupt’ or even better you add in the end ‘whole Pakistani society is corrupt’.
With respect to dogs, there are two categories. Bloody dogs and guard dogs. Bloody dogs get beaten, tortured, raped, mutilated, shot at point blank, put in jail their family members never knowing whether they are killed or have been SOLD to dog pound in Guantanamo, and even hanged whereas guard dogs bully around with absolutely no repercussions (they do occasionally START fight with dogs of neighbouring alley but then come back running with their tail between their legs) and get free land to live on, get larger and larger share of “cheethrays” that are thrown at them from their international handlers and probably all go to dog heaven for their exalted status as Shaheed or Ghazi.
9. First we should start with bringing to book waderas and feudal land lords. Then we should start accountability of Army.
Thank you for equating Army with waderas and landlords because that is what they are. Ruling like a land lord over this poor nation with an iron rod in their neck. Google Okara Military Farms and see how military is nothing but feudal setup.
10. Everybody makes mistakes. US was sleeping when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor or when the planes flew into WTC on 9/11 or when they could not locate WMDs in Iraq.
You have got to be kidding me.
11. It seems sometimes that your feelings are deeper than loathing for Army. Why not same feeling for the ‘ yellow saw’ or zard aari whose first reaction was to congratulate US. He too is shitting on aid and partying with his chamchas for as long as it lasts for him.
I think we all hate Zardari equally. Geo news, the channel we all love to hate, hates Zardari (their song for Hum Sab Umeed Say Hain is zor ka jhatka zardaro say laga). All of us hate other politicians as well. I have heard this statement so many times ‘make all the politicians stand in a line and shoot them, the country will be better for it’ that if got a dollar for each time this was said, I would have been a millionaire in dollar terms.
12. Politicians have sold the sovereignty of this nation.
When was the sale? Why wasn’t I informed when it was taking place?
As per reports, it was Musharraf who signed the ‘sovereignty-breaching’ agreement with George W Bush. God forbid had it been signed by Nawaz Sharif or late Benazir Bhutto or any other civilian, the state propganda machine (whose strings are pulled by ISPR) would have gone into full swing branding them as traitors, anti state actors, on CIA payroll etc but since because Musharraf was a military guy, state media as well as ISPR is silent despite the fact that he as head of military was the one who actually “pimped” this nation for a few bucks as you said for “their” war on terror.
It is not like that this pimping or mercenary business started during Musharraf’s era. Zia did the same and Ayub Khan is on record stating “Our Army can be Your Army” to US Assistant Secretary of State Henry Henry Byroade in 1953.
What I find amazing in all of this is that I had just asked for heads to roll. Had incident of similar nature happened in a civilian area, the whole nation, media and army would not have stopped till they had hanged that ‘bloody civilian’ but since its our Army, I should be hanged for questioning their integrity, selflessness and professionalism.
“All praise is for the Almighty who bestowed sovereignty upon the army, then made the people subservient to the army and the army subservient to its own interests”