By: Dr Hasan Askari Rizvi
The Pakistani military faces a complex and unusual situation. Traditionally, the military is the most powerful and autonomous state institution in Pakistan. However, a host of events in May-June 2011 have compromised its clout against the backdrop of aggressive criticism by political, religious and societal groups. The most interesting facet of the current propaganda onslaught against the military is that its traditional supporters, Islamists and the political right, are leading the anti-military drive. …
…. If Pakistan is to continue as a strident nuclear power with a strong military to confront India, assert its primacy in Afghanistan and liberate Kashmir, military considerations and priorities will dominate civilian considerations. There is a need to change the mindset and the vision of Pakistan from a powerful regional player to a humane democracy that gives the highest priority to the needs and aspirations of the common people at the operational level. The sole guiding principles should be welfare of the people and a secure future for them in a stable, tolerant and plural Pakistan under a democratic constitutional dispensation.
However, it cannot be denied that the military itself is responsible for some of the current problems. In a bid to sustain its primacy in Pakistan, it has engaged in shrewd manipulation of political forces. It is known for bolstering some political and religious groups. Now, all these groups and their Islamic discourses are haunting the military. ….
…. The army and other services should enforce their rules strictly for engagement of service personnel with civilian groups and especially political and religious entities. The personnel’s interaction with the civilian sector under the cover of Islamic dars or zikar as well as their participation in the annual congregations of religious and sectarian groups should be monitored closely and discouraged in unequivocal terms. These meetings provide a good opportunity to militant and religious activists to penetrate the armed forces.
The military needs to return fully to professionalism and reemphasise that Islam and professionalism go together. Any activity inspired by a religious group, even at the personal level is the negation of professionalism and weakens the military as a professional and disciplined force.
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