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April 7, 2015

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Army chief’s role has strengthened democracy

Army chief’s role has strengthened democracy

ISLAMABAD: Unlike in the past, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s choice for the post of army chief has started delivering as an effective arm of the executive to counter the internal and external security challenges and check terrorism as well as lawlessness in Karachi and Balochistan.
Instead of scheming against the government or the constitutional rule, as was done by the then army chief in 1998, General Raheel has become the strength of the government for his respect for democracy and the rule of law and to meet the challenges haunting the nation and the state.
The role of the army in fighting terrorism, checking unrest in Balochistan and bringing peace in Karachi under the present army chief has been generally appreciated because of evident successes in all the three areas.
During the last year’s political upheaval amid unconstitutional demands from certain elements, the army chief gave a cold shoulder to all those who have been asking him to step in and force the elected Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to quit.
Some political orphans, a section of the media and even some military commanders, as was reported by the international media, had been trying to get General Raheel dragged into what could have been disastrous for Pakistan. However, the army chief kept himself away from any such an adventurism and showed his commitment to the Constitution and democracy.
Efforts were made by certain elements to present General Raheel as an alternative to the elected prime minister. However, the army chief preferred to remain focused on his constitutional role and has been extending his complete support to the prime minister in the areas of national security.
Following the December 16, 2014 Peshawar attack and as a consequence of political leadership’s decision, the military launched a full-fledged offensive against militant groups amid fears of possible serious backlash. However, to the success of the anti-terrorism offensive policy, the blowback was far lesser than what was feared.
Similar evident signs of successes of the military-led operation in Karachi and Balochistan are seen and appreciated. Corps Commander Karachi and Corps Commander Quetta are seen working for the assigned job of bringing peace in these regions.
Military sources said that for the top military commanders, the COAS is a never-satisfied boss, who always expects from his team to do more. How successfully the corps commanders of Karachi and Quetta are performing in their respective domains to bring peace in what were considered the most troubled areas of Pakistan is not only a matter of satisfaction for the government but also a source of pride for the military.
Karachi today is much peaceful than before and for this the Rangers have played an important role. Besides what the law enforcers are doing against terrorists and separatists in the province, it was pleasant to see sports and entertainment activities for the youth and general public organised by the military in Balochistan.
It was also encouraging to find the Quetta corps commander, who on these occasions invited the estranged Baloch youth to avoid taking up arms and adopt the path of peace. Addressing the recently-held Balochistan sports festival, he told the Baloch youth that Pakistan belonged to them so they should not fight against their own home. He added that the days and nights in Balochistan had become peaceful, as political leadership had shown unity. He added, “I appreciate the nation’s sons who have thrown away the arms and decided to play their role for the country and would not play the game of bloodshed in their motherland.”
It also goes to the credit of the incumbent army chief to have an organised military parade on Pakistan Day — the 23rd of March — after a lapse of seven years. The Pakistan Day functions were also organised in other regions and the most heartening were the ones seen in Balochistan. These events by professional and apolitical army makes it look different from the one led by Nawaz Sharif’s 1998 choice.

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