Published On: Mon, Jan 19th, 2015

Pakistan rediscovering itself

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By Dr. Syed Nazir Gilani –

Civil and military leadership in Pakistan have set out to rediscover, the Pakistan that at one point 52 years ago in 1963 was able to provide 120 million (rupee) loan to West Germany for development for a period of 20 years. This discovery is extremely surprising not only for many Pakistanis, who think that their country has always been on receiving side, but also for rest of the world who always claim that Pakistan has made no substantial progress since it got independence.

The recent terrorist attacks on an army school in Peshawar have changed the country from bottom up and the army’s Green Book resolve that “Gone are the days when the sole role of an Army was limited either to invade or beat back the invaders … Geopolitical and geostrategic regional compulsions of South Asia have made the revision and redefinition of Pakistan Army’s role a necessity,” has surfaced. It has public support at all levels.

Military leadership has realised that as an organised lead institution in Pakistan and highly accredited abroad for its strengths of person and mind, needs to revisit the history of its partnership with civil politics of the country. The present military leadership of General Raheel Sharif and his close colleagues have not only set out to fight terrorism in all parts of Pakistan and make the neighbourhood safer for others but at the same time has shown courage and vision to confront countries that have a share in it.

The November 2014 and the January 2015 visits of United States of America and Great Britain have been very important. General Raheel Sharif did not mince words in reminding American’s to revisit their archives and find whether USA and Israel have any hand in the making of ISIS and the General has equally sounded the British Government to check her archives and see if Britain had any part in banned outfit Hizbut Tahrir (HuT) and terror funding to Baloch separatist leaders who are stirring trouble in Pakistan.

Army leadership has helped the previous and this civilian Government to consolidate the trust of the common man and woman and has provided generous support in saving these governments from splintering into a failure. Army leadership is busy reloading the content on the somewhat obsolete and beaten cargo of foreign policy.

The civilian democracy had to  send its army chief — not its president or prime minister — to the United States for a full week of high-level meetings with civilian and military officials in November last year. The Americans gave General Sharif red carpet treatment. The U.S. Legion of Merit Medal was conferred on the Chief of the Army Staff, Gen. Raheel Sharif, during his official visit to the U.S. for his brave leadership, sagacity, vision, efforts for peace and stability in the region.” He and his delegation were also “given a full guard of honour at the U.S. Defense headquarters. He met Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert O. Work, and Commander of the Marine Corps, Gen. Joseph F. Dunford.” He also met officials of the CIA, Secretary of State John Kerry, and was received at a number of forums where he clearly reiterated his position on the extirpation of all categories of terrorists in Pakistan to audiences formerly convinced that Pakistan was using terrorists as proxies and allowing safe havens to terrorist outfits. His stand on ISIS in USA made the American audience learn more about their share in the terrorism.

General Sharif, is the first Army chief of Pakistan to visit USA since 2010. To cap the week of reconciliation, President Barack Obama rang Prime Minister Sharif to take the latter into confidence about his visit to New Delhi to attend India’s Republic Day celebrations in January as chief guest.

The trust between military and civilian leaderships in Pakistan has its history. However, General Raheel Sharif and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif seem to have worked out a new sense of co-operation to bring Pakistan back to its economic strengths of 1963 and military strengths due to a nuclear power. It is this growing realisation that Pakistan has started to execute its ability and  resolve to fight the terrorists that are a threat to Pakistan and to others in the neighbourhood and around the world that British Government invited General Raheel Sharif on a three day official visit to Britain.

Army Chief Gen Raheel Sharif was presented the Guard of Honor on his arrival to London. Pakistan Army Chief was accompanied by British Chief of Defence Staff Nocholas Houghton. He  met British Prime Minister David Cameron. The British official release has stated that General Sharif was met by a ceremonial guard upon his arrival. Defence Secretary Michael Fallon and the Chief of the Defence Staff General Sir Nicholas Houghton met with Pakistan’s army chief in London and discussed  regional security issues and steps to deepen the defence relationship between both countries.

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said I was delighted to welcome General Sharif to the Ministry of Defence today. The UK and Pakistan are close allies, who share a rich and historical relationship. During our meeting, we had a wide-ranging discussion about how we can overcome the security issues facing both our countries and deepen our already strong defence relationship.

Britain is fully aware that a large number of Pakistani and Kashmiri community is settled here. These two communities are playing an impacting part in the political and economic life of Britain. Defence Secretary further stated that General Sharif’s visit also offered me the opportunity to express once again our condolences following the appalling recent terrorist attack on the Army school in Peshawar.

The re-opening of the school this week underlines the admirable resolve of the Pakistani people. We will continue to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Pakistan in the fight against terrorism and extremism. As an indication of our support, I am pleased to announce that I have agreed to provide Pakistan’s armed forces with a range of specialist bomb disposal equipment to help it counter the threat from terrorist groups and save Pakistani lives.

Military action against terrorists (Zarb-e-Azb)  has inflicted significant damage on terrorists in the North Waziristan and Khyber agencies. It has convinced the world at large that without Pakistan’s support war against terror has no merit. It is not only on this front that Pakistan has started taking lead but it has reached a point in its life where it has decided to innovate and modify its worldview and frontload its foreign policy with commitment, trade and economic preferences to survive.

Civil and military leadership in Pakistan  cooperated in another challenging foreign-policy initiative that Washington had to take notice of. On Nov. 20, Defense Minister Khawaja Asif and his Russian counterpart, Sergey Shoygu, signed a defense cooperation agreement in Islamabad aimed at “promoting international security; intensification of counterterrorism and arms control activities; strengthening collaboration in various military fields, including education, medicine, history, topography, hydrography and culture; and sharing experiences in peacekeeping operations.” This decision sent signals across the world of a Pakistan determined to define its own future.

Kashmir

Military leadership has decided to remain a principal component of Pakistan’s commitment to the cause of Kashmir. It has frontloaded this commitment in the foreign policy, which began with General Raheel Sharif’s address at Youm-i-Shohada in April 2014 and has continued with Prime Minister Sharif’s address at the UN General Assembly, adviser on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz’s joint press briefing with US Secretary of State John Kerry in Islamabad and has been reiterated by General Raheel Sharif in London stating that “Kashmir dispute has to be resolved for peace and stability”.


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