By Brig(r) Mehboob Qadir shared by Ch. Muhammad Natiq Ubaid.
Today traditional formation commanders’ annual conference was held at GHQ albeit a week or two earlier. In this conference, Pakistan Army’s entire senior commanders and Principal Staff Officers(PSOs) participate and deliberate on the regional environment, national security, training and administrative matters concerning the Army. Chief heads the meeting. This conference sets the command and staff tone for the next year as the general officers carry with them COAS’s mind and outlines of future GHQ policies. Thus it may be understood that the annual Formation Commander’s Conference is a very important forum where the main contours of Army policy are fine-tuned directly under the chairmanship of the COAS.
The conference in question became more significant because it was held in the immediate aftermath of a huge but cleverly executed political upheaval in which the PTI govt was toppled by an unnatural coalition of scavenger political parties through open and blatant horse-trading and a very strong perception of a collaborative push for regime change in Pakistan engineered by the US.
In this jostle for political power, the maximum collateral damage was suffered by the Army which through a strange twist of logic was trying to apparently distance itself from the rink of the pugilists most of whom it had trained and patronized itself during various phases of our existence. This was an unsound strategy and turned the wrath of friendly PTI also towards the Army with great ferocity. Meanwhile, vultures now comprising PDM had been at it since 2018 ably helped by the Army’s real and perceived bumblings and the erroneous notion of strategic silence/restraint. Little did it realize that ours was not a western society where dignified silence before provocation is a virtue. Here if you are in a position of power let the offender walk away your position is undermined. We are tribal in sentiments and represent armed power, not monastery monks. We have to maintain a level of deterrence all the time.
I recollect late Gen Asif Nawaz who had summoned late Nawaz Khokhar a sitting PPP Deputy Speaker NA for having roughed up a junior GHQ officer on Islamabad Highway.
Made him wait at the gates for hours then let him in, was brought to his office and did not spare till he apologized to that officer in front of him. Not an utterly refined response but then nobody plays saints with thugs. The message went out loud and clear; do not mess with the Army.
The Army kept shooting itself in the foot again and again. We got literally reduced to shadow boxers by the likes of Fazlur Rehman, NS/Maryam and their pack, Mahmood Achakzai, Farhatullah Babar and a number of other heel biters. It required just one determined and powerful jab under the chin which would have knocked the daylight out of the loudmouth and the whole rabble would have learnt their lesson but we failed to rise to the occasion. What has befallen the Army now is not sudden. We had long prepared the soil; levelled, tilled, watered, and fertilised.
Our opaque and uncharacteristic conduct during the present political conflagration not only perplexed our popular supporters but more undesirably seems to have disoriented and frustrated rank and file also. Social media is overflowing with unmentionable indignities against the Army command. It very inauspiciously spilt over into agitating crowds that filled city squares on Sunday evening. Just the right mix for the hostile agencies to fan hatred.
The communique that was issued by ISPR after the conference is crafted in perfect English, carefully worded, replete with high principles and politically correct language. Splendid dignity but that is not enough. The road to hell is paved with noble intentions. Generic declarations would not help.GHQ aught to specify actionable determinations and come out loud and clear on issues related to it pricking the public mind. In short, loosen the necktie, roll up sleeves and start walking the talk, please.