By Ghalib Sultan

Whatever the army’s detractors might say about the its past involvement in politics or its much criticized strategic depth policy when it came to differentiating between militant organizations, the fact of the matter is that it is the only state organ that has exhibited intent and desire to steer Pakistan  out of the mess it finds itself in. I am not only referring to the pro-active steps the army has taken after the Peshawar massacre, but also towards the massive rehabilitation projects that were carried out in South Waziristan and the relentless pursuit of militants in Khyber agency. While John Kerry on his recent visit to Pakistan praised the professionalism of the Pakistan Army and termed the institution a ‘truly binding force’, it baffles me that there are still those who continue to mount undue criticism on the institution.

COAS Raheel Sharif

America has been the Pakistan army’s biggest critic with regards to its efforts in the war against terrorism, however recently even they seem convinced over the army’s resolve to fight ‘all’ terrorists. But for some people it seems that any step the army takes, even if it is a positive one, criticizing it is like an involuntary reaction. I personally see two reasons for the above predicament: one that it has now become fashionable to bash the army, and other one is that the person is perhaps promoting a foreign agenda. The latter seems like a more plausible reason for a well renowned author who claims to be a civilian military scientist. With all due respect, I was left confounded when the author recently stated that the army is being made out to be the savior it isn’t, and that the bulk of the blame is wrongly being placed on the civilian leadership in light of the recent attack in Peshawar. I cannot help but ask the following questions; would it not have been right for the PM to be present at the reopening of the Army Public School? Why didn’t the Prime Minister feel that a visit to Afghanistan was necessary after such an attack? Wherever it seemed right for the Prime Minister to take the first step, it was in fact General Raheel Sharif who beat him to it proving his personal involvement and determination. Does the author still feel that the civilian government is being unfairly criticized?

It is not to say that the army should be immune from criticism, in fact all state organs should be criticized when they falter. But criticizing the only institution that is standing up for the nation and keeping it together in the face of acute adversity cannot help the nation in any imaginable way; however, it can certainly go a long way in promoting a foreign agenda.