By S. M. Hali

On 23rd March 1940, the apex leadership of All India Muslim League assembled in Manto Park Lahore and passed a resolution for the creation of a separate sovereign state for Muslims of India. At that time, it was declared a false hope by some but within seven years under the charismatic leadership of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah Pakistan became a reality. The epic date is observed as Pakistan Day.

After Independence, the Armed Forces of Pakistan were handed over the gauntlet of escorting the refugee trains and ships bringing the Muslim migrants to the Promised Land because hordes of Hindu and Sikh fanatics attacked the mass exodus of humanity, killing and looting them. Pakistan’s armed forces sacrificed their lives in protecting the refugee caravans. Nary had a month passed that Indian army illegally occupied Kashmir and Pakistan Army had to fight the liberation war for Kashmir. 1965 and 1971 Wars followed in which the armed forces had to bear the brunt. Since 9/11, the armed forces have been engaged in fighting the war on terror, in which thousands of soldiers have laid down their lives in the defence of Pakistan. If that were not enough, Pakistan has been struck by calamities like earthquakes, floods, torrential rains and deluge, each taking a major toll of human lives and property. The armed forces of Pakistan have responded to the beck and call of the nation to rescue and rehabilitate their countrymen.

Unfortunately, on a number of occasions, army chiefs have been tempted to take the reign of control of the nation when the politicians have created a mess of things. This act is contrary to the constitutional role of the army, but egged on by politicians and forced by circumstances, four different army chiefs have jumped into the fray. Once ensconced firmly, the military dictators have been reluctant to let go and have departed unceremoniously. This has indeed brought a bad name to the army. However, for the last five years, it has been the firm resolve of the army to remain subservient to the ruling political dispensation and follow its constitutional role. The terror attacks have targeted civilian and military targets with impunity. The civilians have been targeted to destabilize the country and create a reign of terror harassing and demoralizing the public. The military have been deliberately made a target of the assailants because it alone has the capacity to thwart the nefarious designs of the terrorists. In this aspect, the General Headquarters, Naval installations and Air Force bases have been the prime target. The army and ISI have stood like a strong edifice in the path of the detractors and extremists but instead of appreciating the sacrifice and performance of both these august institutions, contrary to the spirit of Pakistan Resolution, an unfair campaign for bashing of Armed Forces/ISI through media by certain elements has been conducted. This campaign has been a source of concern for the soldiers as well as the patriotic people of Pakistan. The agenda of these detractors has been to not only depict the Armed Forces/ISI in bad light but also propagate divisive themes/messages among the domestic audience creating false perceptions of mistrust and unjust sense of conflict between the national institutions and the Government. 

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Some examples are the spurt of conspiracy theories generated in the wake of the Memo-gate scandal, which instead of letting the apex court decide for itself after thorough investigation, parties with vested interest tried to besmirch the good name of the ISI and the Army.  The missing persons’ case and Mehrangate issue are also clear depiction of the same endeavour to malign the armed forces of Pakistan.

Media talk-show hosts tried to project a case against the army alleging their involvement in creating political mess in the country. Such hawkish analysts misperceiving the prevalent politico-social milieu misconstrued the real sprit/intention of Army/ISI and predicted that Senate elections would never be allowed to take place. To add insult to injury, they proliferated that much before the Senate elections the political government would be sent packing. They concluded that since Armed Forces and Government are not on the same page, therefore the Army will take over the control of the country. The effort was aimed at provocative coverage of events to create further mistrust between Army/ISI and Government. The events were negatively projected without showing any regards for the Armed Forces, creating a wrong perception that Pak Army/ISI was responsible for prevailing turmoil in the country and that the aim of Army/ISI was to dislodge the elected government. Unfortunately for them, the events unfolded differently bringing shame and discredit for such analysts and opinion makers. Senate elections have been held peacefully. The civilian Government remains in power and Pak Army/ISI and Government are very much on the same page. Those who created misperceptions about Pak Army/ISI need to be exposed and non-involvement of Army/ISI in politics must be projected assertively. Respect for Armed Forces is mandatory for all people of Pakistan including media and the politicians.

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As we observe this 23rd March, the anniversary of the acceptance of the Pakistan Resolution and its fruition into Pakistan, let us resolve to make Pakistan a great nation as envisaged by our founding fathers. Armed Forces are custodians of Pakistan’s security ensuring timely measures to thwart any internal/external threats. They have always offered sacrifices to defend the ideological and geographical borders of motherland. The nation is proud of their performance may it be war against terrorism, flood relief operations, earthquakes and natural calamities, social and economic uplift programs and or provision of educational facilities. Pak Army and ISI are key institutions of Pakistan. They proved their mettle in exposing the machination of Pakistan’s detractors like CIA and have prompted revisiting the terms of engagement with the US. Let the nation remember its founding fathers who bestowed upon us the gift of independence and let us also revere the custodians of our sovereignty and independence, the armed forces of Pakistan.