National Development and the Armed Forces | Dr A Q Khan

Random thoughts

In some of my previous columns I had suggested that the army take an active, practical part in the development of the country. Peace and law and order situations play a vital role in development. That aspect of our country was largely destroyed when Gen Musharraf became President Bush’s poodle at just one phone call. By attacking Lal Masjid he brought on the cult of suicide bombers, and destructive explosions, and large numbers of casualties.

Before his misadventure, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Fata were tourist destinations. The Americans were given access to our airports and seaport. No senior military or civilian officers were taken into confidence, as became evident from later statements from officials. The late air chief marshal Mustaf Ali Mir strongly opposed the handing over of our air bases and air facilities to foreigners, but was conveniently removed from the scene for his views. Similarly, many governors were summarily sent home when they refused orders requiring them to kill their own kith and kin.

In order to be accepted as a genuine leader of Pakistan, Musharraf had many photo sessions with world leaders, but when the Americans no longer found him useful, he was soon discarded. Trying to project himself as a world statesman in a so-called autobiography didn’t help either. According to many foreign sources, the book was written by a ghost writer and contained many lies and insinuations. There were even some state secrets revealed in it which, had he been a civilian, would have landed him in lifelong incarceration. However, in keeping with our traditions, we also saw many sycophants praising it as a masterpiece – a piece of unparalleled wisdom.

Gen Musharraf was succeeded by Gen Kayani, who carried a heavy load because of all kinds of corruption stories about his brother. Luckily, the new army chief, General Raheel Sharif, is free of such encumbrances and belongs to a brave and noble family, his late brother even having given his life for this country.

After taking charge, Gen Raheel has taken strict measures to curb corruption, maladministration and commercial activities within the army. He knows that without proper peace and law and order the country cannot progress. Terrorists were stupid enough to attack the Army Public School in Peshawar last year and murdered many young innocent children in cold blood. That turned out to be the proverbial last straw and the army is now all set to sort them out once and for all with the backing of the whole nation. There is now no longer any place for them to hide and, hopefully, terrorism will soon be a thing of the past.

The only way to control the law and order situation is to deweaponise the country. An ordinance is needed to force the people to surrender their weapons within, say, two weeks and any violators should be sentenced to a lengthy prison sentence of, say, 14 years. If they are caught a second time, the penalty should be death by hanging.

Sometimes strict and draconian measures are a must in order to maintain law and order, and combat rogue elements. If this kind of evil is not crushed in its initial stages, it becomes a monster. If any leniency is shown, looters, thieves, dacoits, etc will become even more powerful and the honest will be poor and helpless.

Unfortunately, our civilians are expert patrons of corruption and incompetence. They blatantly violate the constitution and the laws and are proud about that. Equally unfortunate is the fact that all our military rulers, except for Ayub Khan during the first five years of his rule, immediately started surrounding themselves with corrupt and dishonest politicians. This led to them receiving what they deserved – unceremonious exit – but to the detriment of the country.

The point here is that only illegal actions require attempts at justification by flimsy methods. Honest work for the betterment of the people is immediately recognised for what it is and leads to hero worship of the perpetrator. The moment someone starts trying to prolong their rule by illegal means, that is the beginning of their end; never doubt it!

My column on the control of flood waters was appreciated by many knowledgeable people. Two highly qualified and experienced water experts, Pakistanis working in Canada and the US, offered their services to me if I were to be given charge of any such project. They are both willing to give up bright careers and comfortable lives abroad in order to serve Pakistan. Should the army decide to accept this challenge, it would be the beginning of turning Pakistan into a stable, rich state.


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