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Obsessive focus: Gen Kayani’s comments


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PERHAPS it is a sign of the times that Gen Kayani’s comments at the Pakistan Military Academy in Kakul will attract little meaningful attention or comment. “Pakistan was created in the name of Islam and Islam can never be taken out of Pakistan ... The Pakistan Army will keep on doing its best towards our common dream for a truly Islamic Republic of Pakistan,” Gen Kayani said. In truth, however, both the timing and the content of Gen Kayani’s speech ought to be parsed carefully. Given the recent travails of election candidates facing new, and unwarranted, scrutiny of their Islamic credentials and a debate being triggered on the true ideology of Pakistan, the army chief ought to have considered whether weighing in on such matters at this time was the appropriate thing to do or not. The political battle lines have already been drawn, with religious elements and anti-democratic forces beating the drum of an exclusionist version of Pakistan’s ideology and trying to make it an election issue. Has Gen Kayani, wittingly or unwittingly, given those religious elements and anti-democratic forces a boost going into next month’s election?

The substance too of the comments requires close examination. Who is trying to take Islam out of Pakistan; where is the threat to the public’s right to practise their Muslim faith? In fact, the threat is in the opposite direction: to those of other faiths who are also Pakistani and some of whom don’t even enjoy the theoretical right to practise their faith without fear or intimidation. If Islam is in fact the core of the Pakistani state, does that mean non-Muslim Pakistanis have no place in this state and society? Even among Muslims, from the early 1950s, the question of which of the many different interpretations of and schools of thought in Islam ought to be given precedence over the rest has been a dangerously divisive issue when the state has seen fit on occasion to tackle it. More relevantly to Gen Kayani’s institution, the exclusive, obsessive even, focus on using Islam to galvanise the armed forces is precisely where the origins of the tragic and disastrous policy of state-sponsored jihad has arisen. Gen Kayani and the army high command should stick to questions of national security and leave it to the politicians to sort out for whom and why Pakistan was created. The ideology of Pakistan should be an issue for politics, not the armed forces.

Comments (44) Closed

Bilal Khan Apr 23, 2013 02:49am
Thank you DAWN for reminding the army stick to the constitution and the inspirations of most Pakistanis. They have enjoyed more then many politicians, even benefitted from the Mr. 100% clan during the past few years. We all know who's brothers, family and relatives made billions.
Majid Apr 23, 2013 03:11pm
Dear Editor, How very naughty of you to quote Gen Kayani's as saying, "Pakistan Army will keep on doing its best towards our common dream for a truly Islamic Republic of Pakistan..." but cut out the last few words of his sentence: " envisioned by the Quaid-e-Azam and Allama Iqbal". The unedited, Urdu-to-English version as officially made public by Pakistan's defence ministry is available on the internet for those interested.
Uza Syed Apr 22, 2013 12:22pm
Right, "Gen Kayani and the army high command should stick to questions of national security and leave it to the politicians to sort out for whom and why Pakistan was created. The ideology of Pakistan should be an issue for politics, not the armed forces.". Good advice for General Kayani, he and his soldiers must learn to focus on their job as Pakistani soldiers trained to fight the enemies who attack Pakistan and Pakistanis physically.
chmyounus Apr 22, 2013 11:13am
COAS is right. Do not teach Army lessons , they do better job than Politicians.
Mazhar Ullah Apr 23, 2013 01:41am
What ever General Kayani spoke in his speach at Military Academy is totally right. Who are men in uniform ofcourse son of soil and citizen of the country.They have full right to live ,vote and serve the country. Now regarding the training of officers and men, the only assendency we have is the Islamic concept is to do and die for the Islamic country. Religion is the basic motivation which prepares the soldier of Pakistan Army to compelite his mission of defending his country even at the parrallel of his life . Why was General Kayani there? Answer is he is the Chief and it is his duty to train ,motivate and emphisis on all the aspect of Army requirements. So his speach and comments were according to the situation and within the prospective of his duties.
Milind Apr 23, 2013 05:48am
Thank Mr. Kayani for not saying that Pakistan was created for the army!!!
Taimur Apr 23, 2013 12:59am
Ibrahim Malick Apr 23, 2013 01:11am
Way to go Dawn! You made my day- I hope others will take your lead.
mahavir Apr 23, 2013 01:23am
Akhter Hussain, You are hitting at the very reason of creation of Pakistan. Wasn't Pak created for Islam/Muslims? Didn't Jinnah argued that Muslims in united India were a different nation( Two nation theory)? If Pak was to remain secular then what was the need for a separate nation? Its logical extension of the same arguement on which Pak was created.
umesh bhagwat Apr 22, 2013 11:43pm
it is obvious that kayani is towing the taliban line!
Dave Apr 22, 2013 05:28pm
"Do not teach Army lessons...????" Yes you are right. They have always done a better job killing its own fellow countrymen than securing their lives... Previously Bangladesh and now Balochistan are the prime examples.
WellWisher Apr 22, 2013 11:33pm
off course it was the politicians who lost East Pakistan. Just being a little sarcastic. Bhutto was to be blamed a little but army was in command.
HK Apr 23, 2013 09:16am
You seem to have missed the point. The editorial does not challenge the place of Islam in the social, cultural and political polity of Pakistan. It is only highlighting the unnecessary and excessive tendency to raise the bogey of Islam being in danger. It would have been more relevant if the General had specifically referred and condemned the increasing tendency of sectarianism and categorically confirmed armed forces impartiality towards all sects.
akhter husain Apr 22, 2013 01:35pm
One is allowed to eat hundred breads at a time because one has the money.This is what you are saying.Mind you that state is required to provide equal opportunity to all irrespective of ones faith,cast race etc.State in itself is neither religious or secular it is there for justice to be done to every single soul living in it..
Kamal Apr 22, 2013 08:53pm
Ideologies are always fought and defended by nations...through non military means. Never by Armed forces. Pakistan Army is unique for sure. Never any Army men, from a general to Lt, could answer how Pakistan's ideology defense is protected by Army and how they are taught to defend it...and not by the nation itself.
Bakka Apr 22, 2013 08:13pm
Role of Pak army is to defend the frontiers and assist the civil administration in times of calamity, emergency or as directed by civil administration (lawful). Pak army has often outstepped and deviated from their core role, as a result Pakistan suffered heavily due to maverick action of Generals.
Capt C M Khan Apr 22, 2013 07:29pm
I have lost all respect for Gen Kayani and army after reading this statement. Shocking.
Zinc Apr 23, 2013 10:59am
Thanks Dawn
Razzaq Apr 22, 2013 07:03pm
Very well said. May be you are right in saying 'to use Islam to galvanised the armed forces'. However, I believe that there is a difference between being a Muslim and being an Islamist.
Saeed Apr 22, 2013 05:58pm
Fully agree
Swabva'l Apr 22, 2013 07:55am
Gen is right, it is the duty of Pakistan Army to defend the boundries and ideology of Islamic Republic of Pakistan
Muhib Apr 22, 2013 06:49pm
" Gen Kayani and the army high command should stick to questions of national security and leave it to the politicians to sort out for whom and why Pakistan was created. The ideology of Pakistan should be an issue for politics, not the armed forces" .... I dont know when the army would understand that their only job is to defend borders in which they fail miserably. Who asked them for the ideology of Pakistan. If they are so desparate as to become intellectuals they should give up their profession and start afresh.
Masooma Apr 22, 2013 03:16pm
I totally agree with Ghalib, the ratio must be equal! Dawn should not favor one over other.
Rashid Apr 22, 2013 08:28am
Quite blunt in the face of army. Thank you democracy for this!
imran Apr 22, 2013 08:35am
Now may be the time is arive that a grand debate between parliamentarians be held and this issue should be solved.
Amjad Wyne Apr 22, 2013 05:25pm
All will work out when the nation gets reasonable (not good, just reasonable) political leaders. Until then, hope for the best. There is nothing wrong with latching on to Islam just like there is nothing wrong in latching on to any faith - it is the lifeline of more people than we know of. More importantly, Kiyani did not ask anyone to become fanatic and that is the point you need to focus on.
Masooma Apr 22, 2013 02:53pm
Uza you are so right ! Gen Kayani must read your statement and of others like you, so he understands his limitation...He should understand the sensitivity of this kind of statements and issues that creates more turmoil in the country. He should also know Pakistan was created as "PAKISTAN" only!!! So stop creating any more problems...Islamic Republic came with Zia-ul- Haq!!!
aviratam Apr 22, 2013 06:59am
A very thoughtful editorial. Thank you.
waqar Apr 22, 2013 06:44am
very well said dawn...couldnt have been better written...
Dr. D. Prithipaul Apr 22, 2013 04:24pm
Kayani is right, Even Dawn was founded with the purpose of enabling the Muslim League to fight for the establishment of an Islamic state. Islamabad is the only capital to bear the name of a religion. It says it all. The editorial misses the point that the law already disbars the non-Muslim from becoming the Head of State. Democracy as practised by all other democratic countries have the basic law proclaiming the equality of the citizen, while in a theocracy like Pakistan the citizen is also a believer. Dawn cannot pretend that democracy overrides the fundamental fact of Pakistan being a strictly Islamic state. In fact the sharia ought to be the law of the land. Even Jinnah envisaged this possibility.
Sandip Apr 22, 2013 04:27pm
Surely. And that "better job" is visible all across Pakistan to see. Need we say more?
naseer nasar Apr 22, 2013 03:04pm
Steps should be taken by the politicians to realize the words of Dawn.
Ravi Apr 22, 2013 06:05am
In Pakistan thre is a phobia of religion as if Islam is in big danger over here. More religion is brought in politics, it will bring intolerance and discrimination against, muslim and non-muslim ethnic minorities. Fundamentalists and extremists shall get moral support which shall bring more trouble for general public in the form of terrorist attacks. Religion should not be subject of discussion in politics, good governace, development,education, economy, employment etc sholuld be the main agenda of politics, leave religion for religous estblishments which are very strong and have enough support in Pakistan.
Balaji Apr 22, 2013 06:16am
Good thinking.. but the Pakistan Army still has a long way to go to get around this.... It all comes down to the civilian leadership to show the way and change the Army's thinking slowly but steadily...
kamaljit Singh Apr 22, 2013 05:47am
Your editorial is very thought provoking. You have rightly said that let the politicians do the politics and not the uniformed general. It is strange to hear such a non professional assertion by the highest commander of the army. Pakistan was not created by the generals but by the politicians and rather the generals truncated and messed it up.
aziz Apr 22, 2013 05:34am
It is also a matter of historiical record that the first constitutional attack on non-Muslims was made during the civilian government of Mr. Z.A. Bhutto when Ahmadis were declared non-Muslims and political entities of all hues supported it.
M. S. Alvi Apr 22, 2013 01:07pm
No, mostly politicians did the destruction.
Iqbal Apr 22, 2013 04:57am
please do not advise the COAS.... he knows better than us what to say and when to say...
Mother Apr 22, 2013 04:54am
Thank you for giving this message loud and clear to the Army...Please stay out of affairs that are none of your business. Focus on what you are paid for...remember I pay you...and to date you are doing a bad job.
malik Apr 22, 2013 04:54am
Totally agree with your comments.
Jamil Apr 22, 2013 04:32am
It is interesting the learned writer sees a opposition between democrasy and Islam. While endorsing democrasy for Pakistan it is often overlooked that Pakistani nation is predominantly Muslim ,and being in majority, they have their democratic right to see their faith ruling their lives in their social and political sphere. Perhaps knowingly or unknowling, it is also presumed that Islam is only a social polity that regulates personal and social life of the people and and has no say or should not have any interaction with the political life of the people. The concept of religion as a personal matter of an individual has no roots in Islam and it should kept away from the present context. The relationship of Pakistan and Islam is inseparable and people would like to see their true representation in the parliament. These parliamentarians are not only meant for making roads, dams and providing other services to the masses but are also meant for making laws for this country, and your law reflects your values. We can't afford being muslims and laws being formulated being inspired by alien cultures
Siyalkotia Apr 22, 2013 04:29am
Media is alive and healthy --- for a change.
Ghalib Khan Apr 22, 2013 04:18am
Can Dawn, come clear on its policies though I do believe what said above is 100% correct, on other hand the articles in Dawn do have a tilt of favor towards the politicians who have soft corners for the Extremist or at-least enjoy their protection. You do not print a single comment which is against those political parties and personalities, and then this article, I think it is high time you people decide what you really want.
Mirza Asad Baig Apr 22, 2013 12:12pm
The Pakistan Army's role is well defined in the constitution and I fully agree that it's one and only role is to take care of the territorial integrity of Pakistan under the executive guidance of the Government of the day. However, bad habits will take time to wane.