COAS Gen Raheel Sharif speaks his mind
Islamabad, Pakistan: The address of Chief of Army Staff (COAS) on Defence Day to the gathering of military officials and families of martyrs is a tradition in Pakistan. This address usually explains mindset of leadership of Army towards defence requirements, readiness and expectations of a commander from his forces.
COAS Gen. Raheel Sharif while addressing Defence Day gathering at General Headquarters on September 6, 2016 indicated a number of issues purely related with the governance and issues those fall in the ambit of a civilian government.
He highlighted these issues because such are directly related with war against terrorism and Operation Zarb-e-Azb headed by Pakistan Army.
He also pointed out that some elements are trying to create mistrust towards security and intelligence organizations. However, he did not cite and indicate who are they?
He stated that Army and law enforcement personnel were (are) putting their lives at stake to curb the facilitators, abettors, financiers and sympathisers of the enemies but some elements were (are) trying to create an atmosphere of mistrust in the nation towards security and intelligence organizations.
He also questioned the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) that governs justice system of Pakistan and this law is as old as year 1898 but still being used with certain amendments including of Act 2 of 1997.
The apparent reason behind citing this issue in his speech is vagueness and weaknesses of this law that usually helps criminals and terrorists instead of law enforcing agencies. Pakistan is fighting a war of survival against terrorists and nation is giving sacrifices but terrorists are usually defeat law enforcing agencies in courts of law by using criminal act in their favour. Pakistan Army ruled the country for decades in past but did not feel the importance to change laws made by British Raj during 1889 and 1898 to rule sub-continent. This is a good indicator that stakeholders in power now feel that criminal act and its related law should be changed without delay. Since there is a civilian government in power, therefore it is the responsibility of the civilian government to amend the rule now.
“In order to root out terrorism, we must also remove such weaknesses in or criminal justice system which impedes the complete eradication of terrorism”, COAS indicated.
COAS categorically stated that Zarb-e-Azb might be just another military offensive for the world, but for us (Pakistanis), it is (was) the war of survival for our homeland.
He again talked about the need of rapid implementation of National Action Plan (NAP) to fight out terrorism, he stated that it was (is) necessary to ensure country-wide implementation of National Action Plan, formed out of the collective wisdom of the nation, in its true letter and spirit. Since, a high-powered committee, led by National Security Adviser Lt Gen (retd) Nasser Khan Janjua is monitoring implementation of the National Action Plan against terrorism, it is expected that he will fill gaps and speed up progress on NAP which is really needed in the consolidation phase of Operation Zarb-e-Azb”.
COAS again cited that the evil nexus of heinous crimes, corruption and terrorism was (is) a great impediment to achieving complete peace and is a cause of social unrest and said that effective and far-reaching reforms are needed to break this nexus. This indicates the possibilities of Pakistan Army to push civilian government to do more to curb corruption or to take over corruption issue also in its hands. Rangers in Karachi are already doing it but corruption is not confined to one city or province rather it needs a nation-wide purge against corrupt elements come what may who they are.
As a commander of Pakistan Army, he sent loud and clear messages to enemies of Pakistan and stated that “We shall not hesitate from going to any extents to ensure our national security”.
He emphasized that Pakistan desire peaceful relations with neighbours but the fact can never be overlooked that the true assurance of peace in the region is the balance of power.
“Despite all external machinations and instigations, we are ever prepared for the defence of our borders and are capable to defend our dear homeland in all domains, may it be conventional or unconventional”, he added.
Another important point in his speech was a message sent to those who are “covert” enemies of Pakistan. This message indicates that COAS did not send this message to our arch historical enemy India rather this message is for many around us who behave life friends but are trying to cut roots of Pakistani society.
“Here I want to make it clear that we are fully aware of all Covert and Overt intrigues and intentions of our enemies. Be the challenge military or diplomatic, be the danger on the borders or within the cities, we know our friends and foes all too well. We know well how to abide by bonds of friendship and how to avenge upon our enemies”.
On diplomatic issues, he covered almost all important features of foreign policy of Pakistan including Pak-Sino relations, Kashmir policy and Pak-Afghan relations.
He proudly said that Pakistan was the only country that fought against terrorism in befitting manners.
“For the past few years, our country is faced with the menace of terrorism and an unconventional war in which the Nation and the Armed Forces have rendered countless sacrifices side by side. While terrorism has crumbled many countries around the world, Pakistan, By the Grace of Allah Almighty, has valiantly fought these challenges.
A few years ago, we were faced with terrorists attacks almost on a daily basis. No part of the country, including defence installations, was beyond the enemy’s reach. The writ of the state had practically ended in many parts of the country. North Waziristan had become a hotbed of terrorists. Doubts and misgivings about War on Terrorism were common in many circles. I held full faith in the capabilities and resolve of the Armed Forces of Pakistan. It was this faith that encouraged us to launch Operation Zarb-e-Azb.
We named Operation Zarb-e-Azb after the Sword of the Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) so that we’d be guided on every step by the Edicts of Allah Almighty and the examples of the Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him). This sword can only be raised for the protection of the oppressed and the innocent and to eradicate evil and disorder from the land.
The process of indiscriminate elimination of terrorists from our soil that we started two years ago in the form of Operation Zarb-e-Azb has attained its laid down military objectives, and, today, the Green banner flutters proudly over all parts of our dear homeland.
Since the start of Operation Zarb-e-Azb, we have undertaken over 19,000 operations across the length and breadth of the country to overcome terrorism. In this long voyage of success, Pakistan Army has been aided by invaluable sacrifices rendered by Rangers, Frontier Corps, Police and Levies. Our Intelligence Agencies have played a vital role in these achievements.
The success of Zarb-e-Azb results from unparalleled Tri-Services cooperation. Especially Pakistan Air Force has worked in close harmony with Pakistan Army at every stage of this operation. This mutual harmony of the Armed Forces is our treasured asset.
As a nation, we can be rightfully proud of the accomplishments made during this brief span. Now we see the solutions instead of new problems. But we must remember that the internal and external threats to peace have not yet ended completely.
During the War on Terrorism, almost 18,000 innocent citizens and 5,000 officers and soldiers of the Armed Forces have laid their lives while over 48,000 Pakistanis have suffered serious injuries. We shall not allow the sacrifices of our martyrs to go in vain. Zarb-e-Azb might be just another military offensive for the world, but for us, it is the war of survival for our homeland. We shall not hesitate from going to any extents to ensure our national security”.
Political observers in Pakistan believe that the address of COAS Gen. Raheel Sharif was “more than an address of a commander” rather an address of a “Statesman” to his nation.
Political circles believe in Islamabad that Gen. Raheel Rashrif spoke his “mind” and now this is the responsibility of civil government to tackle issues he (COAS) indicated without delay to avoid any unpleasant political situation in future.