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Army dismissals

Published Apr 23, 2016 06:29am


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IT had all the potential of a public relations coup. A day after army chief Gen Raheel Sharif waded into the anti-corruption debate by calling for across-the-board accountability, he provided a compelling example of his commitment to the cause when it emerged that he had unprecedentedly dismissed from military service a three-star and a two-star general, three brigadiers and a colonel.

News of the dismissals was sure to dominate the political discourse — and it did. But there appeared to be a breakdown, perhaps deliberately so, when it came to the communications of the otherwise superbly well-oiled ISPR machine.

Rather than official comment, the media was given inaccurate early information by a clutch of unnamed military officials.

Even after clarification was offered about the number of officers acted against — earlier reports had suggested a larger number of officers had been found guilty of corruption — there were no details shared regarding the charges that the officers faced or the findings of the court.

Nevertheless, it is a beginning — the guilty being found guilty by their own institution suggests a new willingness to focus on professionalism and probity.

Consider that the officers involved were serving in a province where the military has insisted that a range of unprecedented threats — state and non-state, internal and external — are undermining the security and stability of the country itself.

With the vast security responsibilities that the military has arrogated to itself in Balochistan and the life-and-death policy and operational decisions that senior officers routinely make, the quality of officers serving in the province ought to be second to none and their reputations impeccable.

Perhaps GHQ ought to conduct a more wide-ranging probe about the various streams of corruption, both along the border and when dealing with local populations, that are widely rumoured in the province.

To fight external enemies and win over disaffected local populations, surely the military’s reputation must be above reproach in every respect.

Inevitably, however, there are lessons here for the political leadership of the country. The military dominates the civil-military relationship for many reasons, historical and institutional.

But perhaps one of the greatest assets of the military is its understanding of the public mood — and willingness to align with it and exploit it. For weeks now, the fallout of the Panama Papers has dominated the political discourse in the country — and yet absolutely nothing whatsoever has been done to prove that the civilians are serious about combating corruption.

Meanwhile, an internal military investigation that appears to stretch back at least a year has suddenly been unveiled and offered as the centrepiece of the military’s own efforts to cleanse itself.

The political class needs to understand that legitimacy does not just flow from elections — it also flows from the quality of democracy and governance that the politicians deliver.

Sadly, it is the military that time and again has demonstrated a more sophisticated understanding of politics than the politicians themselves.

Published in Dawn, April 23rd, 2016

Comments (14) Closed

I. Ahmed Apr 23, 2016 07:05am

"The political class needs to understand that legitimacy does not just flow from elections" so very true. And politicians also need to understand that elections are only a part of a system that is called democracy.

rs Apr 23, 2016 08:37am

Corruption is such a deep rooted malaise that it cannot be removed by knee jerk reactions.

Ahluwalia (A proud Punjabi from village AHLU near Lahore) Apr 23, 2016 09:11am

It is a good start. But the ball needs to be carried all the way for the betterment of the country and its loving people. Kudos to the honest chief to show the light to the rest. God bless you all.

Freda Shah Apr 23, 2016 09:21am

Political parties, acting like mafias, have had a strangulating hold over this country ever since its inception. Until we get rid of corruption in politics, and all other institutions, we can never have genuine democracy and rule of the people. GRS is very bravely trying to set a high standard. We can only hope that others will take heed.

sheraz Apr 23, 2016 09:39am

"The political class needs to understand that legitimacy does not just flow from elections — it also flows from the quality of democracy and governance that the politicians deliver." That is what Pakistani civilian leadership needs to understand with true heart. Fair editorial!

neutral Apr 23, 2016 10:20am

"Legitimacy does not just flow from elections" is a perfect observation. Unfortunately, what elections mean in this country is securing votes - by money or bullet. And once in the Assembly, make-up all the election expenses plus much more for next. This is what 'elections' are for us. Those elected only are servants of their personal interests. Shameful. How can these people ever think of Accountability ?

GAK Wazir Apr 23, 2016 12:41pm

No doubt, legitimacy flows from the quality of democracy and governance and the political government must focus on these two things if they want to restore public trust. Trust is always reposed in a leader or ruler who himself possesses an immaculate carer. Majority of our politicians are believed to be corrupt

mansoor mubeen Apr 23, 2016 12:53pm

while un official announcements have been made with much fanfare and have not been substantiated with ISPR official communique, it all looks a mere eye wash. just sacking from the employment , how it can be considered as the accountability exercise. a just accountability exercise should ideally consist of sacking from employment, recovery of embezzled amount and awarding a punishment.

Imran ali Apr 23, 2016 02:12pm

This tip of iceberg..who is controlling Iran and Baluchistan border where human trafficking and drugs going out and Petrol and diesel are smuggled since many years

Ahmedj Apr 23, 2016 03:17pm

The last two paragraphs, nailed it. superb

Raaz Apr 23, 2016 07:49pm

Pakistan Army and General Sharif are the only beacons of hope

Keti Zilgish Apr 24, 2016 02:26am

The main problem with 'representative democracy' is that one gives a blank check to the 'representative' for 5 years. At most the person should be given 2 months to solve a problem. Ad hoc democracy (Direct Democracy) (please Google) is better than this 'blank check' (Representative Democracy).

Keti Zilgish Apr 24, 2016 02:29am

If one has to be ruled at all it should not be by representation but rather by referendum.

Muhammad Junaid Abbasi Apr 24, 2016 03:44pm

General Raheel Shareef is an icon of bravery peoples of Pakistan Loves him except corrupt politicians both government and opposition. They want him to retire as soon as possible. They certainly do not want him to overthrow the democratic government and stage a coup, The decision of General Shareef to Dismiss 12 Army officers from service is an unprecedented example in the history. Likewise every Pakistani expecting from him to nab all corrupt politicians and clean the country from corruption.