Media pathogens and civil-military harmony
Pakistan is one of those countries where civil-military relations are historically strained and tainted with repeated military takeovers which have resulted in an inherent feeling of distrust between civil and military leaderships.
There are two schools of thought prevalent in Pakistan in which group A wants the army to remain alienated from political affairs and to take commands from civil government by completely refraining from any independent moves.
Simultaneously group B wants a well-defined permanent role of Pakistan army in the decision making process so that to shut down the surprise-door from both side and complete sublimation of doctrine of necessity.
Nawaz Sharif has personally fallen victim to his misunderstandings with Pakistan Army therefore , in his third tenure as Prime Minister, was extra cautious in selecting Army Chief. Raheel Sharif’s selection was done after a careful scrutiny and the informed sources have revealed two important aspects of General Raheel Sharif which were instrumental in his selection as top commander; his focused professionalism and the fact that he did not approach the Prime Minister to consider him for top-rank. By all standards of professionalism, Nawaz Sharif’s personal concerns and national interest Raheel Sharif proved to be the best man for the job.
It would not be incorrect to say that few bitter issues did surface which could prove to be disastrous but they were managed so carefully that they caused the skirmish-sources to completely fade out. Two important examples can be stated in this regard; President Musharraf and Zarb-e-Azb. Federal government, though initially reluctant, allowed President Musharraf to go abroad, despite threat of negative political consequences, for treatment.
Secondly when Nawaz Sharif took over, the government was not mentally prepared for such a vast and comprehensive operation against the terrorist outfits. But when the proposal of Zarb-e-Azb was given the Government not only supported the idea but also provided the military with adequate funds to sustain and win the battle against terrorists.
Similarly during the ‘dharna’ episode the Government was considerably jolted and it was being presumed, as well as suggested, by certain quarters that time is ripe for a military coup and it is very short of becoming a reality. Political analysts across the globe are of the opinion that if the element of misadventure had existed in General Raheel Sharif’s nature he would have exploited the opportunity to reach the corridors of power.
Raheel Sharif’s supportive role was truly appreciated by Nawaz Sharif and he mentioned this on the floor of the house as well.
This excellent, and unprecedented, civil-military working relationship has reached a point that at the twilight of Army Chief’s tenure the Government is toying with the idea of extending Raheel Sharif’s tenure because Zarb-e-Azb is successfully moving towards its logical end therefore change in command might hamper its progress.
However General Raheel himself has not shown any keenness or inclination towards the idea of his service-extension. All the points mentioned above reflect a harmony in civil military relation and General Raheel Sharif is in good books of the Premier.
Another reality that we all must admit, and feel, is a highly contagious disease caused by “media-pathogens” which is commonly recognised by the symptoms of inclination towards breaking a news by distorting the facts. The fact that disharmony, between civil and military leadership, did not exist and does not exist has defeated all the speculations, of military intervention, being marketed by selective media groups which I have termed as media-pathogens.
As a reaction to this speculative-failure a very careful and well planned campaign has been launched to promote the idea that civil and military leadership are not on the same page and within a couple of months the Chief of Army staff is going to oust the Prime Minister and smoothly take over, himself, or sponsor another regime, of technocrats, to run the affairs of the state. These individuals have now even resorted to the cheap tactics of posting banners on the streets, of Pakistan’s major cities, carrying an open invitation to the Army Chief to say good bye to retirement and manage the affairs of the country.
Since a considerable amount of effort has been put in tarnishing the harmonious relations of both Sharifs therefore a careful analysis is necessary to counter their arguments. Entire edifice of this negative campaign stands on two major issues; Pakistan foreign policy with special focus on relations with India along with Kashmir issue and the anti-corruption drive, which is now an extension of Zarb-e-Azb, by the Armed forces.
Nawaz Sharif, and every sane Pakistani, supports the idea of having good relations with India and to exploit each other’s potentials to the betterment of citizenry on both sides. Nawaz Sharif, on assuming the office of Prime Minister, took the lead and extended friendship efforts towards India. This move was heavily criticised by a specific group in the media and civil society and a notion was floated that the friendship gestures of Prime Minster are being looked down upon by the armed forces because they consider it to be tantamount to treason. However the cascade of events which followed proved all these ideas to be wrong and baseless.
The most tricky part of this campaign, to prove civil-military disharmony, lies in the corruption-elimination drive of the Pakistan Army. As we all know that General Raheel Sharif included corruption as part of terrorist activity because money from corrupt practices was fueling the nefarious agendas of terrorists.
Right when Sindh-cleansing was at its peak and corruption-gurus were being brought to justice the issue of Panama papers surfaced which gave a new paradigm to some individuals to redefine, on their own, the parameters of civil-military relations. Panama issue is a separate and lengthy debate but in short the Prime Minster has taken steps towards addressing and resolving this issue and, apparently, is not shying away from it.
But a handful of media folks are adamant to promote a thought that Army Chief is extremely unhappy on the progress, to resolve Panama issue, and is all set to take over. This assumption also proved to be wrong because the matter is entirely being dealt at the political level without any interference from any other institution.
CPEC project is a true reflection of civil-military harmony. China would have never gone this far if there was a shadow of doubt that civil-military relations are not well-grooved. We should honour and promote the, long awaited, healthy civil-military relations rather than to create an atmosphere of distrust and uncertainty just to quench the excitement-thirst.
General Raheel Sharif has revitalised the, slow-breathing civil-military relations; he surely deserves the nation’s respect not scorn!