How Gen Sarfaraz touched hearts, impacted Balochistan

August 09, 2022

Gen Sarfaraz Ali was a very different Corps Commander who was serving the people of Balochistan at multiple levels, never seen before.His over three years of career journey in Balochistan was not a...

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Lt Gen Sarfaraz Ali. —file photo

Gen Sarfaraz Ali was a very different Corps Commander who was serving the people of Balochistan at multiple levels, never seen before.

His over three years of career journey in Balochistan was not a smooth affair. The socioeconomic domain of Balochistan, fencing initiative, security situation and general law-and-order scenario remained, at least apparently, in grip and only occasionally big breaches in the security paradigm were seen.

But in any case, the fault did not lie with him and it could not be graded as his failure because he has done a wonderful job as IG FC South, later as Corps Commander Balochistan. He strategically defeated foreign-sponsored insurgency in the province.

Gen Sarfaraz Ali had a highly formidable service record as far as his qualifications and his previously held appointments were concerned. He had been Brigade Commander 111 Brigade, Commandant Staff College, DG MI, IG FC and now was Commander 12 Corps. This 12 Corps was Southern Command of the Army a year back and after he assumed the command, it was changed to a corps from the command which was in fact in line with the instructions of the Army (concluded after last year’s army war game in the backdrop of future operational posturing–in case of war).

Yet, this man expedited the transformation and this swift change improvised the system and inspired the officers who were part of this change. The transformation resulted in the restructuring of various branches of headquarters and necessitated new and enhanced roles/responsibilities of the officers involved. It also affected the under-command formations as new deployments and re-articulation of on-ground forces were efficiently undertaken. This had to be certain the necessary outcome of the transformation which was being undertaken but it has been done diligently.

According to his subordinates, he was very kind towards them and always led from the front to galvanise them for action. They also add that General Sarfaraz was very tough on those who were “dodgers” in their working patterns.

Other issues close to General’s heart were governance, poverty, development, civil-military cooperation and narrative-building. He would share major concerns very candidly whenever I met him.

He was always concise and straight and would give you a surprising wit in fact for touching sensitive subjects with such a well-meaning suggestion. One always felt educated. “To be credible, we need to avoid linear and reactive efforts,” he remarked in my article on Balochistan in support of the Army’s efforts for the counter insurgency.

He always shied away from publicity and media coverage, never taking credit for the things he did in Balochistan.

To his credit, he established two women cadet colleges. “Two years ago no one had faith when we started the induction. The second best thing is in the offing Haha!” “.....”You shall be amazed to know that 100% of them are from Balochistan,” said Gen Sarfaraz proudly. He requested not to bring his name for these achievements. He said: “Request not to bring my name or appointment”.

He was humble, open-minded and very much available whenever he interacted with civilian leaders. Once I asked him how his meeting with the Governor (i.e, Zahoor Ahmed Agha) went. He said, “Like always, any particular thing? I can answer”.

He was a frequent participant in tribal notables’ jirgas. He would visit schools, colleges and universities to engage the youth of Balochistan, urging them to shape the future of the province. It was an honour to advise him on his social engagement campaign. He would hate sitting in the office and was a firm believer to represent the state of Pakistan in his vast interaction with a diverse population. During his service in Balochistan, he touched thousands of lives whether they were flood victims, students, border trade affectees and ordinary people.

He was an avid reader himself and would encourage good write-ups. As a columnist, I would always feel excited when he would value my pieces: “Thanks for very thoughtful views, very helpful and very impressive... On the dot”, he would admire. It was such a privilege to work with him on narrative-building and social engagement in Balochistan.

He was a thorough gentleman and a habitual of performing Tahajhuid prayer. He would have contributed much more to many more lives but he left us for his heavenly abode too quickly. May Allah grant him a special place in Jannatul Firdaus.

Jan Achakzai is a geopolitical analyst, a politician from Balochistan. He is Chairman of the Institute of New Horizons (INH) & Balochistan. He tweets Jan_Achakzai

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