On the night of 13th August, hours before Pakistan’s 65th birthday, General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani addressed the selected guests at PMA Kakul.
Not so many years ago, Independence Day was used to be celebrated with parades by the Armed Forces and Civilian troupes. In those days, People of Pakistan, especially the kids, eagerly looked forward to the Parade Day.
However, all of that has been changed since our rulers have joined the so called War On Terror. Now, the Civil and Military leadership observe their Independence Day acts either inside their safe houses or through a bullet proof glass, if they venture out in Public.
Here are some excerpts of the address by Gen Kayani. This gives an insight into how he (and he being the Chief of Army Staff) defines Terrorism, and Extremism.
The excerpts are taken from the translation of his speech, posted at ISPR website.
We are faithful Muslims? No one can separate Islam from Pakistan!
We are faithful Muslims, without any reservations. It is an important article of our faith that only Allah can, and will decide who is a lesser or better Muslim. We must also remember, without doubt, that Pakistan was created in the name of Islam. No one can separate Islam from Pakistan.
Who is extremist? (according to Gen Kayani)
Any person who believes his opinion to be the final verdict, is an extremist. The perfect or universal intellect, is only attributable to Allah. Man, a temporal being, is born with an imperfect intellect, beset with limitations. A human claim to be the final word in judging right from wrong, is tantamount to a claim to divine attributes, or shirk.
What is terrorism? (Gen Kayani’s definition)
As a human being, It would be wrong for me to give the verdict that today’s parade was the best in the world. I have not witnessed all the parades in the world. More importantly, can my criterion for this judgment be considered final? if I cannot give the final verdict in such a small issue, then how is it possible to do so in the intricate issues dealing with religion and life. It becomes blatant extremism when one not only insists upon finality of personal opinion, but tries imposing it on others. More so, if one tries to enforce his opinion through use of gun, it becomes terrorism. That is why Islam does not allow anyone to claim to be a know all, and flirt with divinity.
War against Extremism and Terrorism is our War. (provided it fulfills the definitions mentioned earlier)
If this is the correct definition of extremism and terrorism, then the war against it is our own war, and a just war too. Any misgivings in this regards can divide us internally, leading to a civil war situation. It is therefore, vital that our minds must be clear of cobwebs on this crucial issue.
The war against extremism and terrorism is not only the Army’s war, but that of the whole nation. We as a nation must stand united against this threat. Army’s success is dependent on the will and support of the people. So far, Army and the people have rendered great sacrifices in this cause, for which I pay homage to the Shaheeds, Ghazis and their families. However, these sacrifices will be meaningful, if the civil administration is able to administer the affected areas without the Army’s assistance. This may take some time, but it must remain our ultimate objective. It is also crucial that appropriate laws are passed to deal with terrorism. Since 2001, many countries in the world have formulated special anti terrorism laws. Unfortunately, our progress towards such legislation, remained very slow.
We, the Pakistanis, are not sure why this War on Terror actually started. Why the tribal belt, that used to be our unmanned defense line, had gone rogue against us? Was that after we participated in America’s War on Taliban? Was that after we started handing over Pakistanis and the foreigners, who were previously considered as guests of Nation, to our paymasters? Was that after we exploited and pitched the Tribals against each other? Was that after we recruited proxy warriors from within the Tribals to play our dirty games?
It is also vital to improve the condition of people living in affected areas. Pakistan Army, in collaboration with the Government, has already completed social and welfare projects worth 25 Billion rupees and is set to complete a similar quantum of work in the next two years.
Hope these efforts are not limited to Army garrisons and Cannt areas. If there is something on ground, government should highlight that more.
We are fully aware that it is the most difficult task for any Army to fight its own people. This is always done as a last resort. Our ultimate aim is to bring peace to these areas so that the people can live a normal life. But for that to happen, it is critical that people abide by the constitution and law of the land. No state can afford a parallel system of governance and militias. Peace can only be sought in accordance with the principles of Islam, within the national constitution. Peace must be given a chance. No sane person can deny this. Therefore, any pragmatic solution which is within the bounds of constitution and owned by the society at large is possible.
Now we talk of giving peace a chance, and pound Waziristan with drones the next day.
Can General Kayani answer who is responsible for the killings of women and children in Waziristan? Who will pay their blood money? And will that heal the wounds, scrubbed open every other day? What about the missing persons of Balochistan? Who is abducting them? Why they are killed? Why the perpetrators not caught yet?
You are well aware of the major concerns of common man in Pakistan regarding fragile economic situation, corruption and near breakdown of civic services. These concerns are sapping our will to see beyond the difficulties of daily life. However, the challenge that threatens us the most is preservation of National integrity and unity. We will succeed only when we are ready, united and demonstrate the will to face the challenge.
Talking of fragile economic situation, we would like to see more of the CSF, and other aid flowing in for supporting NATO’s war, to be spent on civilians.
And lets not discuss National Integrity and unity, which is raped and slaughtered daily in Balochistan, Karachi and elsewhere.
All of us have a share of the blame of our past, some more than others. But no nation has progressed by lamenting the past. We must look ahead if we are to progress. We must learn from the past, build our present and keep an eye on the future. It is time that we stand as one, and prove to the world that we are a vibrant and strong nation with a high sense of ethics and morality. This alone, is worthy of honour. The path is difficult and demands sacrifice, yet it remains the only true path available.
Do not blame the past, just do some accountability. Justice is what Pakistan needs today. Those who sold our sovereignty should be brought forward and punished accordingly. Nothing less can be accepted.
As observed after OBL incident:
Today, the people of Pakistan are depressed and demoralized. They feel cheated and humiliated by the establishment. We are first dragged into a war that was not ours at all. We were made to believe it was our War on Terror. In last 10 years, thousands of civilians were killed in urban areas by the blasts and in tribal areas by the drones. It seems that we will continue to pay the price with our lives while the establishment will reap the benefits in the form of foreign aid, commissions and kickbacks.
The ruling establishment of Pakistan is totally indifferent to the public, who is taxed and billed so that Military Inc., and its puppet democracy, sustain and thrive. We are just numbers to them, recorded as casualties of the drone attacks, suicide blasts or intelligence failure.
However, this is going to change soon. Apparently, the playing field where the Generals of Pakistan Army were so sure of winning has turned into a quagmire. The rules of game are now being rewritten and as we reach the End Game, we find ourself staring into the abyss.
God Bless Pakistan!