THE government’s ardent pursuit of talks with the Taliban has largely been met with stoicism from the army high command — until now. Publicly, the army leadership has been keen to play up its deference to the constitutional chain of command and accept whatever decision the civilian leadership takes. Privately, however, the army has been very concerned — and, for once, rightly so. The government’s approach to talks has been dismally supine and defensive and there has been little indication it understands the implications of its actions or the damage it may cause to the fight — and yes, it is a fight, war even — against militancy. In the aftermath of the killing of a general though, the cracks have broken through to the surface and in full public view. Yesterday, Gen Kayani spoke bluntly about not caving in to the demands of terrorists and forcefully underlined the army’s resolve to defeat the terrorists militarily.

Despite his strong words — ones that ought to be emphatically supported — Gen Kayani perhaps unwittingly underlined the wider problem: public ambivalence and indecision by the army leadership over the years. For Gen Kayani to state now that it is “understandable to give peace a chance through a political process” is reasonable — it would be wrong to publicly break with the explicit policy of the civilian leadership. But has the army leadership really done its fair share — and for a country where the civil-military imbalance is very real, that share is a substantial one — in explaining to the country why the fight against militancy is Pakistan’s war and why it must be pursued vigorously? The answer is a clear, and unhappy, no. To his credit, since his Aug 14 speech last year, Gen Kayani has spent the last year speaking more forthrightly about the terrorism, militancy and extremism threat. But it is too little too late.

Has the army leadership dropped its duplicitous policy on drones and publicly accepted who is being targeted and why and what the benefits are?

Has the army leadership publicly distanced itself from groups like the Difa-i-Pakistan Council and sundry right-wingers running around the country trying to stir up trouble?

Most importantly, has the army leadership come anywhere near a zero-tolerance policy against militancy? If it continues to distinguish between the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ militants, the only kind of message the citizenry will get is a muddled one. Yes, the civilians are failing to provide the leadership the country needs today. But has the security establishment provided the clarity and leadership the country deserves?

Updated Sep 17, 2013 07:04am

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Comments (18) (Closed)


Syed Ahmed
Sep 17, 2013 07:43am

Army chief Gen Kayani s sates that Pakistan Army had the capability and determination to fight terrorists and those responsible for the killing of officers would be brought to justice. How and when? The time is running out, you have to act now. Crack down the TTP, including their supporters sitting in the government disregarding Article 6 or any other article. “It's better to die laughing than to live in state of fear.”

Syed Ahmed
Sep 17, 2013 07:39am

Army chief Gen Kayani s sates that Pakistan Army had the capability and determination to fight terrorists and those responsible for the killing of officers would be brought to justice. How and when? The time is running out, you have to act now. Crack down the TTP, including their supporters sitting in the government disregarding Article 6 or any other article. “It's better to die laughing than to live in state of fear.”

Baba Tally
Sep 17, 2013 09:28am

There a lot of skeletons in the military's closet. Kayani is spent cartridge. His only hope is to somehow survive his tenure in office.

KN Shaikh
Sep 17, 2013 11:47am

Good questions raised by Editor. I agree with most of this editorial and would say that it seems Army itself is not clear what to do which shows a lack of leadership at all levels within army.

Salman Rashid
Sep 17, 2013 12:55pm

Kyani's are mere words. There is no substance in them. He is biding his time, too terrified to be THE chief to order the crunch. He knows if he does it, the terrorists will take him out as soon as he retires. And why wait for the gutless civilians? The army has frequently acted without permission when it suited the generals. But not now.

dr vimal raina
Sep 17, 2013 04:17pm

Only if words could kill.

gangadin
Sep 17, 2013 06:20pm

Just a piece of advice for the honorable general: If you continue to make such statements along with army operations, I don't think that peace talks will go anywhere. What might happen tho is that the army personnel might start disobedience. Then what? That means civil war.

Zubair Khan
Sep 17, 2013 06:23pm

Most importantly, has the army leadership come anywhere near a zero-tolerance policy against militancy? If it continues to distinguish between the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ militants, the only kind of message the citizenry will get is a muddled one. Yes, the civilians are failing to provide the leadership the country needs today. But has the security establishment provided the clarity and leadership the country deserves? For your both questions answer is big NO! And the way now wthings will move the big NO will further prolong thus bringing the nations doom day closer and closer.

Shujaat
Sep 17, 2013 08:59pm

@Salman Rashid: There was a time when a single army truck could drive from Quetta to Peshawar,with just 4soldiers with out fear or hindrance.I will tell U what happened to our army,From the day they started teaching Real Estate management at the Staff college in place of military leadership and to top it all made it mandotary for an officer to pass this subject,to be considered to be promoted to be a General.There was a time that owning land or houses was looked down in the army,and there was a good reason for that.Can U guess what it was.

Jalaluddin S. Hussain
Sep 17, 2013 10:02pm

Politicians must be more decisive and the Pakistan army leadership must obey the civilian leadership. No ifs and buts, please!

I agree 100 percent with your following conclusion:

"Yes, the civilians are failing to provide the leadership the country needs today. But has the security establishment provided the clarity and leadership the country deserves?"

May democracy in Pakistan grow from strength to strength!

US CENTCOM
Sep 17, 2013 10:46pm

Lasting peace can never be achieved if the route to it is through violence. That is the simple law of nature. What Gen. Kayani said about the consequences of Sunday’s attack that killed Major General Sanaullah and two other army officers should not come as a surprise. This enemy has been killing with impunity. They do not differentiate between civilians and the security forces, their ideology is to kill and destroy. That is the reason we have seen over 40,000 deaths at the hands of these terrorists. Even today the TTP came out with the statement that they will continue to wage war against the government troops. They have made the stance of elected politicians who have pledged to start a dialogue with these terrorists very difficult. Peace is a two way street. It can only be achieved by the terrorist giving up their agenda of death and destruction, and joining the main stream public in building the nation. Taliban has lost credibility with the people of the region. The overwhelming majority has already rejected terrorism and look forward to peace. It is time the terrorists realize this, and avail the chance they have to become a part of the mainstream nation builders. Or they will be alienated and left in dark with no support from the peace loving masses of the region.

Abdul Quddus DET-United States Central Command

DrTK
Sep 17, 2013 10:48pm

I would say the Taliban is only a manifestation of the very poor governance, lack of a rule of law, and completely inept leadership at all levels in Pakistan since a number of years, leading to a failing state that is now being taken on by all kinds of criminals and fortune seekers. Even with the Taliban gone, something else and even worse will follow. The only and only way to save Pakistan and its people is GOOD GOVERNANCE and the implementation of the rule of law. With zero tolerance for any lapses. That sounds like a Utopian dream though. Far easier to sit with the Taliban and sign a treaty that would be worthless in the long run. We would have run in a complete circle then.

Abdullah KN
Sep 17, 2013 11:47pm

Well Mr. Editor, we had 5 years rule of Zardari, what did he do ? You and others of print media never took time to take him to task.At the end, your & some other dailies praised & congratulated him for completing 5 years in the presidency.It is true army has a dismal record, for interfering in the politics from Ayub to Musharraf but at the same time it has made tremendous sacrifices, paid in blood to establish government writ in tribal territories. Nawaz Sharif, Imran Khan, Mullah Fazal and others want to talk to Talibans.But for what? Talibans have one and only one agenda. They want to impose their version of Islamic shria. Are we ready to aborgate 1973 constitution ?

Abdus Salam Khan
Sep 17, 2013 11:55pm

Army's role is to defend the country and not deciding about "Giving peace a chance"; it is for the government to decide that. I fully agree with Altaf Hussein when he says: "Think again, General kayani... it is a question of Army's honor!

Abdus Salam Khan
Sep 18, 2013 12:33am

Clearly the army finds itself in no position to take on the Taliban, otherwise they would not be talking about "giving peace a chance"! What we now need is a comprehensive Department of Homeland Security on the U.S.A model and it should be provided teeth in the form of an Anti-terrorist Elite force.

ghazi
Sep 18, 2013 02:36am

General Kayani despite being referred to in Dawn as the "soldier's soldier" is probably not that. Keeping quiet in meetings, and just speaking maybe once in two meetings, is not right. General Kayani, this is a safe attitude for you personally, but it is not right for a leader.

Come to think of it, has the army ever ever under General Kayani acted in a timely pro-active manner. Even the famous Swat story, things were happening for a long time, but Kayani moved when those barbarians were about 50 miles from Islamabad 50 miles!

General, YOU NEED TO WALK, IN FACT RUN, AND STOP THE TALK!

Janikhel
Sep 18, 2013 03:55am

@Salman Rashid: Please do not blame Gen. Kiyani, his hands are tight, there are so many other players that we will never know, most of the problems are with us, we have a policy of pacification and our Mullah crowd is inter twined in this cacoon wholeheartedly, the real players are walking over us because they know they can, we are at the mercy of World bank and the IMF packages, where they are located in Washington DC, we should celebrate Yaum-i-Matam every day

Ravian
Sep 18, 2013 05:57am

We have reached the present state of chaos in Pakistan vis-a-vis militancy and / or general law and order situation because of the weak civil and military leadership. It has become the norm now to pass the buck to others in the name of consensus, be it APCs or civil / military responsibilities. In our country incompetence has surprisingly become a way to success, be it Qaim Ali Shah or... Kiyani.